Germany ended months of political uncertainty Sunday when Chancellor Angela Merkel gained the support needed to preserve her governing coalition and secure a fourth term as leader of Europe's most powerful economy. It ends nearly six months of uncertainty over whether Angela Merkel would be able to form a government. Via the CDU's official Twitter account, Merkel said, "I congratulate the SPD on this clear result and I'm looking forward to continuing our good work together for the good of the country".
Al Jazeera's Dominic Kane reports from Berlin.
A postal vote of the SPD's 463,000 members voted to keep Ms Merkel in power by a healthy margin, with 66pc in favour and only 34pc against. It's still significantly less than the 76% vote that the coalition saw in the election four years ago, however this was a far clearer result than the one seen earlier in the year.
The dissenters have campaigned against renewing that coalition, saying the Social Democrats lost public support while in partnership with Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and the Bavaria-only sister party, the Christian Social Union.
Interim SPD leader Olaf Scholz said: "Now we have clarity".
Merkel, who has proved herself a shrewd worldwide negotiator during more than 12 years in office, faced her greatest challenge at home after deciding to allow over a million asylum-seekers into Germany since 2015. "For solidarity in Germany and European Union!"
Germany's second biggest party said yesterday its members have in their high-stakes referendum approved a plan to join Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition, clearing the last hurdle in the way of the veteran leader's fourth term.
The SPD initially planned to go into opposition after a disastrous result in September's election, but agreed to negotiate with Merkel's conservatives after talks with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the environmentalist Greens on a three-way tie-up collapsed in November. In order for the SPD to agree on entering into a new coalition with the CDU/CSU, many concessions had to be made in their favor. It also came after Martin Schulz was forced to hand over the reins as chief of the Social Democrat Party. Her party received the most votes but it took five months to form a coalition government.
Fiercely opposed to her open-door refugee policy, Spahn has advocated a sharp conservative shift to coax back voters from the AfD.
The joyless partnership was evident in the sombre faces of leading SPD members Sunday when they announced that their card-carrying members had signed off on their plan to again join Merkel in government.
But crucially, at a congress this week, her party also formally appointed its new general secretary, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, tapped by Merkel to kickstart the renewal process.
Under a "yes" vote, Merkel would likely be re-elected chancellor by the Bundestag, or lower house of parliament, on March 14.
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