Berlin (dpa) – An overwhelming majority of Germans expect the grand coalition agreement between Merkel’s conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) to be approved by the SPD’s rank and file, according to a poll published by German broadcaster ZDF on Friday.

Some 83 per cent of respondents taking part in the survey, which canvassed the attitudes of 1,255 Germans over the phone, said they believed that SPD members would approve the coalition agreement in the unprecedented party referendum taking place this week.

Only nine per cent of respondents said they thought SPD members would vote against the agreement, which has already been rubber stamped by the Christian Democrats (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party (CSU).

Among SPD supporters, 92 per cent said the agreement would be approved. The results of the party referendum are set to be revealed over the weekend.

Asked whether they were in favour of a coalition between Germany’s biggest political parties, just under half of respondents (49 per cent) said they were. A third of those interviewed opposed the idea (33 per cent).

Among CDU/CSU supporters, 63 percent favoured the grand coalition while 23 per cent rejected it. Among SPD supporters, meanwhile, only 57 percent were in favour, while 28 per cent were not.

Over half of respondents (54 per cent) said that there should be fresh elections if the SPD failed to approve the deal. If this did occur, 22 per cent of respondents would favour a coalition between the CDU/CSU and the Green Party, while 18 per cent would prefer a union between the SPD, the Greens and the far-left Linke Party.

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