Merkel achieves breakthrough in German coalition deal

Merkel achieves breakthrough in German coalition deal

Merkel achieves breakthrough in German coalition deal

Following days of marathon negotiations, a relieved Merkel told reporters the agreement would create "the good and stable government that our country needs and that many in the world expect from us". Merkel has been fighting to remain in power since September's disastrous elections and the price she pays could be heavy, with her new government set to be much more active in pursuing greater European integration and reform and Schulz, the former European parliament president who has called for a United States of Europe, ensconced in Cabinet as foreign minister.

The Social Democrats are balloting their entire 463,723-strong membership.

A thumbs-down could see the country headed for fresh elections or leave Merkel at the helm of an unstable minority government-a prospect she has baulked at.

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It said that, following an all-night session, the three parties still have to work through a relatively short list of disagreements before reaching a final agreement.

After extracting several hard-fought concessions in the final spurt, Martin Schulz said he was stepping down as leader of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) and wanted to become foreign minister in the new government.

Merkel's CDU is holding a party congress February 26 to endorse the deal.

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Bavaria's Christian Social Union, which is tougher on immigration than Merkel, would lead the interior ministry.

The deal could bring an end to months of uncertainty in Europe's biggest economy.

Any agreement will be put to a ballot of the Social Democrats' more than 460,000 members. The party will not vote on the deal in a special conference as the CDU is scheduled to do in Berlin on February 26 or ask its members to vote on the deal, as the SPD is scheduled to do from February 20 until the first weekend of March in a postal ballot.

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