BERLIN – Members of Germany's center-left Social Democratic Party have started voting on whether to accept the coalition agreement negotiated by their leaders with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc on forming a new government.
SPD leaders promised to give the party's 463,000 members the chance to approve the agreement after facing strong resistance to entering another so-called "grand coalition" with Merkel, especially among its youth wing.
SPD lawmaker Heiko Maas, Germany's current justice minister, urged passing the agreement, telling members it "contains many Social Democratic successes: safe pensions, better training, free day-care or massive relief for low-earners."
Voting started Tuesday and concludes March 2. Results are expected March 4.
Should the agreement be rejected, Merkel would be faced with forming a minority government or new elections would need to be called.