Merkel clinches hard-fought deal on new government

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Merkel admitted the debate on the division of ministries "wasn't easy" while Schulz held up the coalition deal as bearing "the strong signature of the Social Democrats".

Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz is likely to succeed German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, following the announcement of a coalition deal by SPD with Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU/CSU bloc.

The SPD, Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union reached the coalition deal on Wednesday, which will possibly end the new government vacuum since the September 24 federal election, the longest period ever since 1949.

Discontent runs so deep that her party colleagues are even starting to talk about who should ultimately replace her.

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A rebellion is also growing in the ranks of Merkel's conservative CDU, with former allies arguing that she had ceded too much power to the left-leaning SPD in order to rule for a further four years as the head of a coalition government.

Some commentators have suggested a mid-term review due two years in to the government could offer Merkel the opportunity to step gracefully aside. And the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to the Christian Democrats, is taking charge of the country's Interior Ministry.

The Social Democrats came out the big victor, Soraya says.

Ziemiak said Merkel needed to make clear by the time of a CDU congress on February 26 how staffing in the government and party would look in future.

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French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the coalition agreement was "very positive" and opened the way for convergence with France on reform of the euro zone, something that the SPD had championed.

"The CDU is structurally weakened in the government and loses influence" under the deal, influential lawmaker Norbert Roettgen said.

Friedrich Merz, a long-time Merkel rival, told Bild newspaper the CDU would undermine itself if it accepted the "humiliation" that came with the division of ministries.

Seehofer is expected to give a report on the mammoth negotiations - which stretched beyond a Sunday deadline into Wednesday - to hammer out the deal to revive the so-called grand coalition that has governed Germany since 2013.

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The move leaves the former European Parliament president empty-handed, after a disastrous year that saw him lead the SPD to its worst-ever score since World War II in September elections, with just 20.5 percent of the vote.

The pitch is created to appeal to his party's 464,000 members before they vote on the deal, which is the final hurdle the SPD needs to pass before the government can be formed. But many younger members are unhappy with party's soon to be ex-leader Martin Schulz's decision to join forces.

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