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After five months, Merkel has her coalition

Merkel and Martin Schulz, who was the SPD leader during the election. Photo: Carsten Koall/Getty Images

Members of the opposition Social Democrats (SPD) have voted to join a grand coalition with Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, meaning the German chancellor will lead her fourth government. Two-thirds of the SPD's 464,000 members voted in favor.

  • Why it matters: After five months, a deadlock that endangered Merkel's political future is over. After a poor election result in September and the prolonged struggle to form a coalition, Merkel's position has been weakened. That said, she's the only leader Germany has known for 12 years, and is on course to remain until 2021.
  • Worth noting: The deal makes the far-right Alternative for Germany the largest opposition party.