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Merkel gets 4 more years in Germany — and a government, too

French President Emmanuel Macron hailed the result as “good news for Europe.”

by Tim Hume
Mar 5 2018, 3:03pm

Angela Merkel will rule another day.

After more than five months of political doubt and deadlock, Europe’s most powerful woman is set to return for a record-equalling fourth term as Germany’s leader, after the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) voted in favor of another “grand coalition” government with her conservative Christian Democratic Union.

The deal was approved after the SPD put the matter to a postal ballot of its 460,000 members. Two thirds voted in favor of renewing the deal, with one third against, SPD treasurer Dietmar Nietan announced Sunday.

Germany has been without a government since federal elections on Sept. 24, the longest the country has been leaderless in its post-war history.

Merkel has struggled to cobble together a coalition to govern the country, since September when voters abandoned the two major traditional parties in record numbers for the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany. The shock turn-out made the anti-immigration party, founded only five years ago, the third largest political force in the country's federal parliament.

Merkel turned to a reluctant SPD, who had governed with the CDU in a so-called grand coalition since 2013, to renew the arrangement, after talks with other potential coalition partners collapsed in November.

The SPD had initially ruled out renewing the deal, but agreed to enter talks to avoid fresh elections that could have further damaged both mainstream parties.

Merkel welcomed the results in a tweet: “I congratulate the SPD for this clear result and look forward to working together for the good of our country,” she said Sunday.

The move will restore stable government to the European powerhouse, at a time when the European Union project faces a renewed threat, following an unprecedented turnout for eurosceptic populist and far-right parties in Sunday’s Italian elections.

French President Emmanuel Macron hailed the result as “good news for Europe.” “France and Germany will work together in the coming weeks to outline new initiatives and push the EU project forward,” he said.

If Merkel sees out the entirety of her term, the 63-year old will have been in charge for 16 years, equalling Helmut Kohl, who led from 1982-98, as Germany’s longest-serving chancellor.