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Merkel’s Party Approves Coalition Deal with Social Democrats 

Berlin (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) on Monday approved a coalition agreement with the left-leaning Social Democrats (SPD).

None of the 167 delegates who took part in the ballot voted against the agreement. Two abstained.

The coalition now hinges on the outcome of a December 6-12 referendum involving some 475,000 SPD members. If they agree to the coalition, Merkel will be officially elected for a third term as chancellor on December 17.

CDU party leader and acting chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the CDU Federal Joint Committee (Bundesausschuss) in Berlin, Germany, 09 December 2013. Delegates of the CDU will vote on the coalition agreement with the SPD at the so-called Minor Party Congress. Photo: TIM BRAKEMEIER/dpa

Despite winning the greatest share of the vote in Germany’s September 22 election, Merkel’s conservatives need a coalition partner to form a government. Their previous partner, the Free Democrats (FDP), fell short of the 5-per-cent hurdle required to make it into parliament.

“I hope that the FDP make it next time,” said Merkel on Monday.

Merkel conceded some key SPD demands in protracted coalition talks, including the introduction of a statutory minimum wage.

The coalition agreement includes a national minimum wage of 8.50 euros (11.50 dollars) an hour, lowering the retirement age from 67 to 63 for some workers, and changes to dual-citizenship rules.

In a sign of opposition within the CDU to some of the new policies, CDU Youth Union chairman Philipp Missfelder said that lowering the retirement age would be “a burden to future generations.”

The government plans will total 10 billion euros. Merkel defended the Union’s plan not to allow any new taxes, or new borrowing until 2015.

In a November 29 survey for German broadcaster ZDF, 52 per cent of respondents said they were satisfied with the coalition agreement. Still, many SPD members argue that the party is letting go of its leftist ideology for a chance to govern alongside the CDU.

The merger marks the second grand coalition in less than a decade between the SPD and CDU, who also governed together from 2005 to 2009.

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