The Social Democratic Party (SPD) will form a grand coalition with the chancellor's conservatives to keep her in power, but the new government's stability will likely be tested.
After more than five months of political uncertainty, Germany has settled on a new government.
Two thirds of the 464,000 rank and file members of the SPD voted to prolong the coalition with Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), according to a party official.
It was a greater percentage of ‘Yes’ votes than had been anticipated, with the radical youth wing of the SPD loudly opposing a unified government after the disastrous election result, which left the leadership of the country in limbo.
Kevin Kuehnert, head of the SPD’s youth wing, said he is disappointed but will continue steering the SPD in a new direction with the support of a flood of new members.
“Criticism of the grand coalition remains. The SPD needs to be more like it has been in recent weeks and less like it has been in recent years – the Jusos [youth wing] will ensure this,” he tweeted.
The Merkel-led government will also face strong opposition externally from the radical right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD).
The anti-immigration party entered the federal parliament for the first time in September securing just over 12% of the vote. It is now the largest opposition group.
Merkel has been one of Europe’s most influential players since coming into power in 2005, but her authority has been waning since she made the decision to open the borders to more than a million migrants in 2015.
She has pleaded for “further cooperation for the good of our country” in a tweet thanking the SPD for its show of support.
The announcement of the coalition’s formation was made on Sunday morning at the party headquarters in Berlin.
Addressing party activists after the votes had been tallied through the night, acting SPD leader Olaf Scholz said: “We now have clarity: the SPD will join the next German government.”