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Germany's Social Democrats, Merkel's CDU Form Grand Coalition


FILE - German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledges the applause of the delegates during the party convention of the Christian Democratic Union CDU in Berlin, Germany, Feb. 26, 2018.

Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) voted to form a coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) Sunday, ending months of political uncertainty in the country.

Two-thirds of the SPD voted to form a Grand Coalition, continuing the government that has ruled Europe's largest economy since 2013. The relatively wide margin means Angela Merkel, who has served as the acting chancellor of Germany since an inconclusive vote in September, could be sworn in for her fourth term as early as the middle of the month.

Using her party's Twitter account Sunday, Merkel said "I look forward to working with the SPD again for the good of our country."

Acting SPD leader Olaf Scholz's announcement of the voting result was met with applause in Berlin early Sunday.

"We now have clarity: The SPD will join the next German government," Scholz said.

The vote was welcomed in particular by France, who is looking for a partner for its ambitious European Union reform plans.

"France and Germany will work together on new initiatives in the coming weeks to bring the European project forward," a statement from French president Emmanuel Macron's office said, adding that Sunday's vote was "good news for Europe."

Differences in migration policy contributed to the collapse of weeks-long coalition talks last year among Merkel's CDU, its Bavarian sister party, the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), and the Green party, following federal elections at the end of September.

Those elections left Merkel's ruling CDU the largest party, but with a reduced share of the vote and fewer seats, thanks partly to a surge by Germany's far-right populists. The SPD had initially planned to join the opposition after recording its worst electoral performance since 1933.