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Merkel set for fourth term after Social Democrats back coalition

The decision by the Social Democrats to back a coalition with Angela Merkel's Conservative bloc has cleared the final major hurdle needed for a Government to be formed in Germany.

The decision to enter the coalition has ended almost six months of uncertainty in German politics, as the country has been without a government for the longest period in its post-war history. The centre-left Social Democrats suffered heavy losses in September’s election and it had long been thought that they would try to extend the so-called 'Grand coalition' for another four years.

Two-thirds of the valid votes cast by the party's 464,000 members favoured a coalition deal, said party treasurer Dietmar Nietan, who oversaw the ballot.

Acting party leader, Olaf Scholz told reporters in Berlin about the importance of the decision to enter a coalition: “This was a really important democratic decision for our country.” The party will put forward the names of three women and three men to lead the ministries they will control in the upcoming coalition in the coming days, he told reporters.

Parliament is expected to meet next week to elect Ms Merkel as chancellor for her fourth term in office.

In 2013, 76% of Social Democrats backed a deal for a Government with Ms Merkel. Many Social Democrats, particularly on the left, have this time argued that the party failed to make its mark on the last Government and would not benefit from propping up Ms Merkel for another term.

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