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Party votes for Merkel coalition

Members of Germany's main centre-left party have voted to go into government with Chancellor Angela Merkel, clearing the way for Mrs Merkel to start her third term at the head of a new coalition.

The ballot of the Social Democrats' nearly 475,000 members caps post-Second World War Germany's longest effort to form a government.

It sets the stage for parliament to re-elect conservative Mrs Merkel on Tuesday.

Senior Social Democrat Barbara Hendricks said that three-quarters of the members who voted approved entering a "grand coalition" government of right and left.

Mrs Merkel's conservatives won the September 22 elections but fell short of a majority and saw their previous pro-business coalition partners lose their parliamentary seats - forcing them to reach across the aisle for new allies.

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