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Germany’s SPD begins vote on coalition deal with Merkel’s conservatives

Members of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) start voting on whether their party should enter a new coalition with Angela Merkel’s conservatives in a postal ballot on Tuesday. If the SPD’s nearly half a million members reject the deal, a new election or a minority government in Europe’s biggest economy are likely. The result of the vote, which runs to March 2, is wide open and will be announced on March 4, Reuters said. Polls indicate a majority of SPD supporters back the deal. Within the SPD, there is strong opposition to the deal as the party is at record lows in opinion polls and embroiled in a messy leadership switch after a personal row between former leader Martin Schulz and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel. Many blame their party’s role in a ‘grand coalition’ from 2013 to 2017 for their worst performance since World War Two in the September 24 election.