German SPD party approves Merkel coalition, says official
BERLIN (AFP) - Germany's centre-left Social Democrats overwhelmingly approved the formation of a "grand coalition" government under Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday, removing the final obstacle to her third term.
Party treasurer Barbara Hendricks said a resounding 76 per cent backed a left-right coalition pact after a postal ballot among its 475,000 members.
The unprecedented, binding referendum, which drew nearly 78 per cent turnout, marked an unqualified triumph for Social Democratic (SPD) chief Sigmar Gabriel nearly three months after his party's bruising loss to Dr Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) in the general election.
"I have never seen my party so politically engaged in the 36 years I have belonged to it," a beaming Mr Gabriel told reporters, flanked by the party leadership.