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German Social Democrat Olaf Scholz has reached a deal with the Free Democrats and Greens to form a new coalition government.
This will be the first three-way federal coalition government for Germany since the 1950s and brings an end to 16 years of Merkel-led conservative government, marking a new era for relations with Europe and the rest of the world.
According to a 177-page agreement struck after two months of talks, the three parties want to accelerate public investment in green technology and digitalization while returning to strict debt limits from 2023 onwards.
Merkel leaves big shoes to fill. She has navigated Germany and Europe through multiple crises and been a champion of liberal democracy in the face of rising authoritarianism worldwide.
Her critics say she has managed rather than solved problems and leaves her successor tough decisions on many fronts.
The alliance - named a traffic light coalition after the three parties' respective colors - has a majority in the lower house of parliament and hopes the government will be sworn in early next month after the parties ratify the coalition pact.
It faces immediate challenges, with Germany reeling from the global health crisis and Europe grappling with the fallout from Brexit and a crisis on the EU's border with Belarus.
Members of the public reacted to the deal:
"Well, I'm a little bit sceptical about the new government. Whether they will and can implement all this, that is the question."
"And that they stop complaining all the time, that they all just find agreement and stop all of this back and forth. It's unbearable and people are starting to break. They don't know what to believe any more."