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Chancellor Angela Merkel today vowed to work with the Social Democrats for the "good of Germany", after the centre-left party agreed to join her new coalition, but the veteran leader will go into her fourth term with weaker cards than before.

When the vote was counted on Sunday, 66.02-percent of the more than 450,000 SPD voting members approved the grand coalition, leaving only 33.98-percent opposed.

The coalition with the center-right Christian Democrats was backed by the central left social democrats.

Stung by their worst post-war results, the SPD had initially ruled out another four years in Merkel's shadow.

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In the elections on September 24., Merkel's party had 33 percent of the votes followed by SPD with 20.5 percent, the nationalist Alternative for Germany with 12.6 percent, the liberal Free Democrats with 10.7 percent, the left with 9.2 percent and the Greens with 8.9 percent.

At SDP headquarters in Berlin, acting leader Olaf Scholz said: "The vast majority of SPD members followed the party leadership's suggestion".

Ralph Brinkhaus, deputy leader of the conservatives in parliament, said conservatives would insist on averting new government debt, and planned to examine any European spending plans very carefully. "Criticisms agai-nst the GroKo remain", he wrote. "For solidarity in Germany and European Union!"

As the chancellor candidate of the biggest party, Merkel is poised for the fourth time to be elected as the new chancellor in the March 14 plenary session of the Bundestag, or the Federal Parliament, and the new government will be formed accordingly.

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Both sides had been weakened as voters angry about the arrival of more than a million asylum seekers in Germany since 2015 turned to the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD). After the second Grand Coalition between 2013 and 2017 as a junior coalition partner, the share fell to 20.5 percent in September elections.

"We now have clarity: the SPD will join the next German government", he added.

"I'm pleased about the result of the SPD members' vote", he said in a statement.

Kevin Kuehnert, head of the SPD's Jusos youth wing who campaigned for a "No" vote, is ready to call out any delay in implementing the hard-won coalition deal, which envisages eurozone reforms in partnership with France. With disputes over Brexit, migration and tax policy on the horizon, Merkel's steady hand will be badly needed. Immigration is expected to be a key issue in this fall's state election in Bavaria, where Merkel's allies fear the fallout from her open-door policies.

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Sueddeutsche daily noted that "she is the one who has made it clear that the CDU is now no longer without a successor for Merkel".