German center-left party battles over new Merkel coalition

Supporters and opponents of a new alliance with Chancellor Angela Merkel are making their case to members of Germany's main center-left party who will decide this weekend whether to negotiate a new governing coalition.

Merkel's Union bloc and leaders of the center-left Social Democrats last week reached a preliminary deal to open formal coalition negotiations. That agreement now needs approval from a party congress Sunday of the Social Democrats, many of whose members are deeply skeptical after a disastrous election result in September.

Over the weekend, a small regional branch of the party came out against a new coalition and some prominent party members picked holes in last week's agreement.

The Social Democrats' parliamentary leader, Andrea Nahles, told Deutschlandfunk radio Monday that she's optimistic about winning over a majority of members.