German parties near coalition deal

Meet the Social Democrat poised to run Merkel's finance ministry

German coalition deal reached

Christian von Stetten, a lawmaker from Ms. Merkel's own Christian Democrats (CDU), said the allocation of Cabinet posts, and the Finance Ministry in particular, had been "a political mistake". Schulz had said shortly after the election last September that he wouldn't join another grand coalition, insisting the party would instead now "renew itself" in opposition.

Former European Parliament speaker and leader of the German Social Democrat party (SPD) Martin Schulz announced today he will abandon his plan to serve as German foreign minister, seeking to end a party row over his role and boost support among members for a new "grand coalition" with Angela Merkel's conservatives.

Schulz had originally said he would not take a job in a government led by Merkel but then said on Wednesday he wanted to take the helm at the foreign ministry - a move for which he was widely criticized.

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The shock announcement comes just days after Merkel's conservatives and the SPD agreed to form a coalition government.

A survey by pollsters Civey found this week that around 60 percent of SPD supporters would back the party entering government once again.

The result of the vote is expected to be announced on March 4.

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There is little chance they will block it, but the gathering will show off just how much Merkel's star has faded among a base that has always been loyal to the hilt, as a growing volume of grumbling has made clear since this week.

"I know it wasn't an easy decision for him", Nahles told reporters in her home village of Weiler in western Germany, saying Schulz deserved respect and recognition for stepping aside so as not to jeopardise the party vote on the coalition.

For the German press, such open resistance to Merkel is a sign that the long-serving leader could be on the way out.

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In a statement, Brand said she is proud of the department's accomplishments during her short time there. She is leaving for an attractive offer in the private sector, according to the person.

Gabriel is still in office in a caretaker capacity while the proposed coalition deal is put to a referendum of SPD members. "But her farewell to power has begun, and thereby the debate about her succession", news weekly Der Spiegel commented.

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