Germany's Social Democrats vote to have formal coalition talks with Merkel's CDU

Germany's Social Democrat Party (SPD) headed by Martin Schulz has voted to start formal coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU). SPD delegates voted 362 to 279, with one abstention, to conduct further negotiations with a view to forming a government. Following the unprecedented performance of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) far-right political party during the country's general election (attracting 12.6 percent of the vote), the European powerhouse has been in political limbo. If the SPD-CDU talks are successful, a new government could be formed by March, some six months after September's Bundestag election.