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German Leaders Agree On New Coalition Talks, But Hurdles Remain

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel shakes hands Friday with the leader of the Social Democratic Party, Martin Schulz. Merkel’s conservatives reached a “breakthrough” deal with the Social Democrats toward building a new coalition government, sources close to the negotiations said. John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

Meet the new German government, same as the old German government.

At least that’s the plan of Chancellor Angela Merkel and her political allies, who Friday crafted a deal aimed at ending Germany’s 3 1/2-month political crisis.

It may appear an odd strategy, given that German voters gave the previous government the boot.

All three parties making up the last grand coalition – the Christian Democrats (CDU), the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) — ended up with historically low returns in last September’s federal elections.

But with snap elections looming after the conservatives tried and failed to reach a deal with several other German parties, the old partners were pressured by the German president — and ultimately, the public — to join together one more time.

They avoided the lengthy public spectacle of earlier failed talks, which

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