CHANCELLOR Angela Merkel has taken a significant step towards ending Germany’s lengthy political impasse by securing a preliminary agreement to enter formal coalition talks with a centre-left party.

The deal was welcomed by Germany’s European allies, but her prospective partner faces a tough task to sell it to sceptical supporters.

Exhausted negotiators from Merkel’s conservative Union bloc and the centre-left Social Democrats have finally presented their deal after more than 24 hours of non-stop talks to cap a week of wrangling.

The compromise includes pledges to strengthen the European Union and keep a lid on the number of migrants entering Germany.

“We have achieved outstanding results,” said the Social Democrats’ leader, Martin Schulz.

But to make a new government a reality, he must persuade a party congress on January 21 to agree to formal coalition negotiations.

If those talks are successful, he must steer a coalition deal through a ballot of the full party membership.

If things go well, a new government could be formed by Easter, said Horst Seehofer, leader of the Christian Social Union - the Bavaria-only sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.

“If we succeed, these could be four very, very good years,” Seehofer said.

“I am already speaking of these years because I believe we will succeed.”