A history of Germany's coalition governments

Berlin and Paris intend to design the euro zone reform on their own

The leadership of Germany's centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) voted in favour of entering coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, party sources told dpa Friday.

But an official with the Social Democrats (SPD) said the party would first hold consultations before it announced a decision on Friday.

The move is highly unpopular among some party members because the previous coalition government between the two was followed by a record-low election result for the SPD?in September. President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who alone has the power to dissolve parliament, has made it clear he doesn't want a new election.

The exploratory discussions are expected to be swift, Schulz said, with the SPD tentatively pencilling in a congress on January 14 to vote on whether to formally open coalition talks.

SPD's decision is of great importance after the so-called "Jamaica coalition" talks between the Union, the Free Democratic Party and the Greens failed, leading to Merkel's worst political crisis as no new government could be formed for the time being since the September 24 German federal elections.

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"Forming governments in a reasonable time is a German trademark, and we shouldn't risk that trademark", said Merkel's conservative close ally Peter Altmaier, warning that the far-right Alternative for Germany party would profit if the uncertainty dragged on.

"Germany needs a stable government because it's the biggest country in the European Union", SPD vice-chair Olaf Scholz said earlier. It was, after all, Germany's 11th CDU/CSU-FDP government.

He said he was cautiously added that "there are different models of how a stable government can be formed".

It has also floated a third option - a "cooperation coalition" or "KoKo" - which could involve the two parties forming an alliance with agreement on some issues while leaving potentially contentious topics to parliamentary debates.

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