Members of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) have decisively voted in favor of entering a new coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc, a party official says.
The announcement was made at the SPD’s headquarters in Berlin on Sunday, after the results of a vote on forming the grand coalition showed that 66 percent — or two-thirds — of the party’s 464,000 members had backed the decision.
“The SPD members followed the suggestion of the party leadership with a big majority. We now have clarity. The SPD will join the next government,” said acting party chairman Olaf Scholz.
The new partnership with Merkel’s conservatives will end five months of political stalemate and clear the final hurdle in the way of a fourth government led by the 63-year-old leader.
Volker Bouffier, a deputy leader of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) Party, welcomed the vote by SPD members and said the decision would benefit the German people and the country’s future.
“I’m pleased about the result of the SPD members’ vote,” he said in an emailed statement to the media. “Today is a good day for the people in our country and positive for the future of Germany.”
A negative vote by the SPD would have prolonged the political deadlock and left Merkel with the option of either leading an unstable minority government or facing snap polls.
In the absence of a deal, the two mainstream German parties, the CDU and the SPD, would have also faced the prospect of the far-right nationalist parties getting more of a say in German politics.
The German parliament is expected to meet next week to elect Merkel as chancellor for a fourth term, confirming her position as one of Europe’s most influential politicians.