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Germany to finally have a new gov't as SPD agrees in referendum

06 March 2018

It is not the result she would have wanted when she began her election campaign previous year - she had to surrender control of key government departments including the powerful finance ministry to get a deal.

The voting members of Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) made their voices heard and sided by a larger than expected margin to approve the new grand coalition government between Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the SPD, ending a months-long gap in a proper government and avoiding the need for the country to hold new elections.

With the party riven over its way forward, its leadership promised its more than 460,000 members the final say on any coalition deal. Merkel told the press Monday morning that many issues required the government to "start working soon". French President Macron's ambitions to reform the EU can not be achieved without the efforts from Germany and a government in Berlin highlighting European policies.

The center-left Social Democrats voted overwhelmingly to remain in a coalition with Merkel's conservative bloc, after hard and drawn-out negotiations triggered by September's elections, which saw the rise of a new right-wing force in German politics and raised questions about Merkel's future.

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But the chancellor, in power for 12 years, has had to pay a high price to coax the reluctant Social Democratic Party (SPD) back into another loveless "grand coalition".

Merkel's survival drew cheers from her allies at home and overseas, with French President Emmanuel Macron declaring it "good news for Europe".

Merkel was weakened by her 2015 decision to welcome hundreds of thousands of people seeking asylum, which helped fuel the rise of a far-right party that stole conservative voters.

"France and Germany will work together in the coming weeks to develop new initiatives and advance the European project", he added. It also came after Martin Schulz was forced to hand over the reins as chief of the Social Democrat Party.

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SPD's acting party Chairman Olaf Scholz said the coalition "gives us the strength for the process of renewal we are embarking upon". To quell the rumblings in her own party, Ms Merkel has brought in one of her biggest CDU rivals, Jens Spahn, as health minister.

The joyless partnership was evident in the sombre faces of leading SPD members Sunday when they announced that their card-carrying members had signed off on their plan to again join Merkel in government.

The direction of her new government remains to be seen.

Ms Merkel will be formally voted in on March 14, but is expected to begin forming a new government immediately.

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Horst Seehofer, the head of her Bavarian sister party and sternest critic of her "open-door" refugee policy will be in charge of the migrant issue as interior minister.

Germany to finally have a new gov't as SPD agrees in referendum