Senior SPD members back coalition talks with Germany's Merkel

Reuters

BERLIN, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Senior members of Germany'sSocial Democrats (SPD) have agreed to the launch of coalitiontalks with Angela Merkel next week, after leaders promised themthey would wring concessions from the German chancellorincluding a nationwide minimum wage.

The majority of the 200 SPD members polled backed astatement agreeing to the start of formal talks with Merkel'sconservatives on a number of conditions. Thirty one membersvoted against, sources at the vote told Reuters.

Merkel's conservative bloc emerged as the strongestpolitical force in the Sept. 22 election but fell just shy ofparliamentary majority, forcing the chancellor to seek acoalition ally. The SPD must win over grassroots memberssceptical of repeating the "grand coalition" they served in withMerkel from 2005-2009.

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