Germany's Social Democrats back coalition with Angela Merkel

Germany's Social Democrats back coalition with Angela Merkel

Senior centre-left MPs believe their members will back Germany's "grand coalition" with Angela Merkel in the postal ballot that ends today, handing her a fourth term as chancellor. Two thirds of the membership backed the deal, a party official said - a wider margin than many had expected - ending more than five months of political uncertainty after an inconclusive election.

Yet the mood among the party's rank-and-file is hard to predict after the Social Democrats slumped to their worst postwar election result in September, triggering a youthful grass-roots movement to take the party into opposition.

Andrea Nahles (R to L), Olaf Scholz and Lars Klingbeil of Social Democratic Party (SPD) speak to party members during the counting of the ballot papers of the voting for a possible coalition between the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the SPD headquarters in Berlin, Germany, March 3, 2018.

The SPD members' ballot runs until Friday.

Top SPD politicians including Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel have also voiced confidence that members will plump for a new round in government.

Merkel has been more guarded on the issue of a minority government since November, when she said after the breakdown of coalition talks with the business-friendly Free Democrats and environmentalist Greens that she would prefer a new election to leading one.

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Spiegel weekly noted that the poor figures have "terrified many" in the SPD and could spur them to go for the lesser evil of joining forces with Merkel again.

A rejection "would be a disaster for Germany, the SPD and, above all, for Europe", SPD lawmaker Thomas Oppermann told Die Welt newspaper.

In a sign of the reluctant collaboration, the two sides have agreed on a clause to review their cooperation in two years.

FDP leader Christian Lindner told the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper chain, that new elections would be the best solution if SPD members voted 'no.' He ruled out revisiting a three-way coalition, given the platforms of the parties involved.

For the chancellor, who is under pressure within her party to rejuvenate her ranks, the clock is essentially ticking to groom her successor.

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