#Merkel sees good chance of #SPD members backing coalition deal

Söder raises a beer stein along with CSu general secretary Andreas Scheuer

The results of the vote will be announced on March 4.

She said that Germany would most likely hold a new election if the SPD's 464,000 members rejected the deal in a postal vote, which starts on February 20.

She had to make painful concessions to the SPD, whose leader Martin Schulz reversed a decision to sit in opposition and entered talks with Merkel to pull Germany out of political deadlock after an inconclusive election on September 24.

She also said she wants the European Union to take further steps towards a common foreign policy as part of a "very ambitious agenda" for the reform the 28-member bloc. If the deal is rejected, Germany would most likely hold a new election. The leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) youth wing has stepped into a vacuum left by Berlin's political veterans to lead a nationwide campaign against the grand coalition with Mrs Merkel's conservatives.

Merkel last week finalised a four-year government program after making painful concessions to the SPD to secure a fourth term in office, angering some members of her Christian Democrats (CDU) who say her compromises went too far. Merkel is facing unrest within her conservative party over the deal, which gives key ministries to the Social Democrats, the junior partner.

Schulz said that he hoped his resignation would pave the way for "a new beginning" of the SPD and allow party members to focus on the coalition deal rather than personnel issues.

Following the election, Tauber was largely absent from talks aimed to form a new coalition government due to inflammatory bowel disease. Martin Schulz announced on February 13, 2018 to resign with immediate effect as SPD chairman, according local media Focus Online.

Provisional appointment: The SPD's executive board and steering committee are able to appoint Nahles as provisional leader when they meet later on Tuesday.

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