It's been a long wait but after nine weeks of inter-party negotiations Germany is on the cusp of getting a grand coalition government. Despite their big differences Germany's conservative and social democrat parties have agreed a pact. Now it's up to the SPD's grassroots membership to vote on the deal. The waiting for Germany is not over yet.
Angela Merkel's conservative bloc won a 41.5% share of the vote in last September's election but finished just short of an overall majority in parliament. Merkel opted to begin coalition talks with the SPD who received just 25.7% of the vote. The two political camps had two very different election programs.
During the campaign the conservatives promised voters not to raise taxes. The social democrats said they would raise taxes for the well-off and they also wanted the introduction of a national minimum wage of 8.50 euros an hour. The two sides argued over proposals to introduce tolls on motorways for car drivers, child care subsidies and on Germany's switch-over to renewable energy generation. All of these points of differences have been settled in the new grand coalition deal.
Critics say a grand coalition would be bad for Germany. They say the opposition in parliament would be puny compared to the coalition's huge majority. But there are also voices that say Germany needs a stabile coalition to deal with outstanding issues on Europe and the difficult process of switching over to renewable energy.
The SPD's membership is to vote the deal and could throw a spanner in the works by rejecting it. If they do say 'No' then over two months of talks and meetings will have been for nothing.
Merkel came out the winner of last September's election but could the SPD end up forcing her to implement policies she does not want? Who are the real winners and losers in the negotiations? Is a grand coalition good for democracy and will Germany get a stabile government?
Tell us what you think: Coalition Deal – will SPD grassroots revolt?
Andreas Kluth has been writing for The Economist since 1997. Since 2012 he is Bureau Chief and Germany Correspondent in Berlin. He was previously the US West Coast Correspondent, covering politics, society and economy in California and the western states. Before this, he covered technology from Silicon Valley, Asian business from Hong Kong, and finance from London.
Donata Riedel is the financial policy correspondent at the Berlin parliamentary offices of business newspaper Handelsblatt. She reports on the budget, taxes, international financial policy and economic issues. Between 1988 and 1995, she worked as a reporter at the German daily taz, heading the business and environment section. In 1995, she joined Handelsblatt, where she was responsible for the business and markets section and served as a telecommunications correspondent.
Ulrike Winkelmann has worked for the tageszeitung at various desks since 1999. After a short stint as head of the politics desk at the weekly newspaper “Der Freitag”, she returned to the “taz” in 2011, where she is now one of the editors for domestic politics.