Germany's SPD vote in favour of coalition negotiations with Merkel's conservatives - 362 delegates in favour, 279 against.
Germany's Social Democrats have backed plans to start coalition talks with Chancellor Merkel's conservatives meaning a 'grand coalition' between the parties is back on the cards.
After four months of government crisis the SPD congress voted:
SPD (S&D) delegates: 645
Ahead of the crucial vote Germany's young social democrats were calling for a clean break between the SPD and Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats
After a poor German election with heavy losses, SPD leader Martin Schulz vowed the party would go into opposition.
"Believe me, we haven't taken this lightly, not you, not me. But for us to follow the plea of the president to find a way out of this difficult political situation, not a moment of doubt existed for me. Social democracy is my poltical understanding and my conviction, and that must lead us out of this special situation. This is achievable for the improvement of the lives of people in Germany and in Europe."
Merkel has made it clear she wants a new government by mid February.