Key moments in Germany's political stalemate

(Left to right) State Premier for the state of Bavaria and leader of the Christian Social Union Horst Seehofer, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leader of the Social Democratic Party Martin Schulz posing at the end of a press conference after talks to form a new government at the SPD headquarters in Berlin. PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN (AFP) - Germany on Wednesday (Feb 7) achieved a breakthrough after the longest period of political limbo in its post-war history, since an inconclusive general election in September.

Here are the key dates in the battle to set up a stable government for Chancellor Angela Merkel's fourth term:

Election

Sept 24, 2017: Germany holds a general election which Mr Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) win but with a historically low score, depriving them of a clear ruling majority.

The second-place Social Democrats (SPD) also see their support plummet, while the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party scores nearly 13 per cent, winning its first seats in parliament.

Caretaker government

Oct 22, 2017: Dr Merkel's previous right-left "grand coalition" with the SPD becomes a caretaker government

Coalition talks

Nov 20, 2017: Talks to build an alliance between Dr Merkel's conservative bloc, the liberal Free Democrats and the ecologist Greens collapse in acrimony.

Jan 7, 2018: Negotiations begin to mount a new "grand coalition" - the third under Dr Merkel following her 2005-2009 and 2013-2017 terms.

Coalition deal

Feb 7, 2018: Parties reach a deal for a new coalition.

Early March: The SPD is to publish the result of a yes-or-no referendum by the SPD's 440,000 rank-and-file members on the coalition deal. If they approve it, Dr Merkel can be officially elected chancellor for a fourth term by a majority of MPs.

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