Merkel seeks her party's support for new German coalition, points to continuity on Europe

Chancellor Angela Merkel is seeking her conservative party's support for a new German government alliance with its center-left rivals and pointing to continuity in Berlin's hard-nosed approach to Europe's debt crisis.

Merkel's Christian Democrats emerged the strongest force from September elections but fell short of a majority, and their previous, pro-business coalition partners were voted out of parliament. Merkel then negotiated with the center-left Social Democrats to form a "grand coalition" of Germany's biggest parties.

Merkel appealed to a party conference Monday to back the resulting agreement, which features some center-left demands such as a national minimum wage and making it easier for some people to retire early.

The Social Democrats are putting the deal to a ballot of their entire 470,000-strong membership. The result is expected this weekend.