SPD OKs coalition with Merkel

Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) in an inner party referendum approved a coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel; SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel will become minister for economics and energy.

Almost 76% out of the 78% of SPD members who participated in the poll voted in favour of a coalition with Merkel' Christian Democrats (CDU) and her Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) sister party.

Merkel on Tuesday is slated to be voted again for Chancellor, in her third term.

Merkel in a change to her cabinet will create a new ministry for economics and energy that will be headed by SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel.

With that, Gabriel will be the main responsible for the Energiewende - Germany's move away from nuclear and toward renewable energy.

The CDU/CSU and SPD in their coalition contract have announced they will cut feed-in tariffs for onshore wind energy, and lower Germany's target for offshore wind to 6.5GW by 2020 from 10GW previously envisaged.

The incoming coalition also wants to put a cap on the build-up to renewables of 45% of electricity output by 2025.

But Gabriel's new very strong position, his good standing with Merkel, and the new government's almost 80% majority in parliament are likely to guarantee a stable renewables policy for the next four years with a steady, but not overheated expansion of green power.

In the outgoing government, the economics and environment ministries had shared the responsibility for the Energiewende, which often led to quarreling within the government.