BERLIN, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) began counting ballots of a fateful party membership vote concerning government building on Saturday.
More than 70 percent of party members had submitted postal ballots to express opinions about whether their party should join a coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, SPD officials said on Friday.
Merkel's conservatives and the center-left social democrats reached a deal on Nov. 27 to form a grand coalition after five weeks of talks since the Sept. 22 general elections.
However, the agreement still has to be approved by SPD members. A coalition of Germany's two biggest parties can only become a reality if a majority of SPD voters backs the proposed coalition deal in the internal referendum.
SPD chief Sigmar Gabriel is expected to announce the vote result in the late afternoon after a day of ballot counting.
SPD members are widely expected to approve the coalition agreement, German media reported. SPD officials have said members will approve the deal because the party had won major concessions during coalition talks.
According to a poll for German TV channel ZDF, 80 percent of SPD party members expect a grand coalition to take place.
But if SPD members reject the coalition deal, Merkel has to seek another coalition partner, possibly the Greens. The other option will be a new election.