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German SPD to vote on coalition deal with Merkel’s bloc

Members of Germany’s Social Democratic Party have started voting on whether to enter a new coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc.

(Web Desk) -The SPD’s 464,000 members took part in a postal ballot on Tuesday to approve a power-sharing deal with Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union of Germany party (CDU) and its sister party, the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU).

Germany has been in a political stalemate and without a government since elections in September last year.

Following marathon talks, Merkel renewed a “grand coalition” deal with the SPD, after making concessions on Europe and fiscal policy and giving the center-left party the finance, foreign affairs, and labor ministries.

The SPD’s leadership and many in its senior ranks want the coalition to go ahead.

Opponents to the deal blame their party’s role in a “grand coalition” from 2013 to 2017 for their worst performance since World War II in the September 24 federal elections.

If the SPD’s members reject the deal, the European powerhouse will have to hold new elections or form an unprecedented minority government.

The results of the vote, which will run until March 2, will be announced on March 4.

Meanwhile, Merkel suggested close ally Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the premier of the state of Saarland, on Monday to take over as secretary general of the CDU Party.

The decision to entrust Kramp-Karrenbauer with bolstering the CDU after it lost ground in the elections last year is significant as some party members are starting to look ahead to a post-Merkel era.

The chancellor has been under pressure from within the CDU to pump fresh blood into senior positions and to begin planning for her own succession. By promoting Kramp-Karrenbauer, she achieves both and moves an ally into a key role.

Merkel, who was the CDU secretary general before becoming chancellor, said Kramp-Karrenbauerwould bring “a lot of weight” to the role in what she called “difficult times, uncertain times.”

Kramp-Karrenbauer — known by her acronym AKK and sometimes dubbed “mini Merkel” or “princess” by German media — is expected to be voted into her new role at an extraordinary party congress on February 26.

Outgoing secretary general Peter Tauber, 43, was to announce his resignation on February 19.

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