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Germany Inches Closer To New Government After Marathon Talks

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Germany Inches Closer To New Government After Marathon Talks
A coalition agreement between Germany's main parties would end months of political stalemate.
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After roughly 24 hours of marathon negotiations, Germany's main political parties emerged with the beginnings of a coalition deal. If the deal goes through, it would end a monthslong political stalemate.

But the new government wouldn't look a whole lot different from the old one. 

That's because Chancellor Angela Merkel's party — the center-right Christian Democratic Union — and the Christian Social Union party of Bavaria were in a coalition with the center-left Social Democratic Party for the past four years. Those parties were the only ones to lose seats in September's elections.

Before a coalition can be formed, Social Democratic Party members must approve it. If they don't, the country may be forced to vote again in snap elections — not a favorable choice for establishment parties since it could give rise to fringe groups.

NPR reports that in defense of the deal, Social Democratic leader Martin Schulz said, "At a time when [German] society is drifting apart, we wanted to hold the society together."

Schulz had campaigned to become the main opposition to Merkel, but the rise of the far-right party Alternative for Germany might have changed that. The young party gained the third-most seats in September's vote, tapping into anti-immigrant and anti-Islam sentiments following the influx of more than a million migrants since 2015. It was the first time members of a far-right party were elected to the Bundestag since the National Socialist German Workers' Party, commonly called the Nazis.

Social Democratic members will vote on the coalition deal Jan. 21.