CHANCELLOR Angela Merkel’s conservatives and Germany’s main centre-left party have reached an agreement to form a new coalition government after a final negotiating session that dragged on for 24 hours.

However, the deal between Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its Bavaria-only sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the centre-left Social Democrats will not bring an immediate end to the political limbo following September’s election.

A deal will be put to a ballot of the Social Democrats’ more than 460,000 members, a process that will take a few weeks. Many members are sceptical after the party’s disastrous election result, which followed four years of a “grand coalition” with the party serving as junior partner to Merkel’s conservatives.

For the conservative side, Merkel needs the approval of her party’s congress – a far lower hurdle.

The country has already broken its post-Second World War record for the longest time between an election and the swearing-in of a new government.

The chancellor’s chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, said: “We have a coalition agreement that means positive things for many, many citizens.