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German chancellor's conservatives back coalition deal

German Chancellor Angela Merkel moved a step closer to securing a fourth term after her conservative party backed a deal struck with the Social Democrats on forming a coalition government.

The Christian Democratic Union of Germany, or CDU, approved the coalition deal at a party conference, with only 27 of the 975 delegates voting in opposition, public German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

Merkel defended the agreement, which has upset some rank-and-file CDU members due to concessions given to Social Democrats, saying it was the best deal that could be reached, according to the report.

The conservatives' approval followed a number of cabinet nominations made by Merkel on Feb. 25, including acting finance minister Peter Altmaier, who was tapped to head the economy ministry.

With the finance ministry now run by the Social Democrats, Merkel said the economy ministry was a worthy replacement for the CDU.

"Should we have allowed the deal to fail just because of this one position?" Merkel was quoted as saying in the report. "My answer is no."

Social Democrats are still voting on the coalition deal, with results expected to be known around March 4, according to Deutsche Welle.