Schaeu­ble to head Ger­man par­lia­ment, un­block­ing coali­tion talks

Global Times - - World -

Ger­many took a first de­ci­sive step on Wed­nes­day to­ward form­ing a new govern­ment when its veteran fi­nance min­is­ter, con­ser­va­tive Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble, agreed to be­come pres­i­dent of the par­lia­ment, clear­ing the way for an­other party to take his job.

Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel will hope that Schaeu­ble, deeply re­spected in Ger­many for help­ing to steer the eu­ro­zone through its debt cri­sis, can stamp his au­thor­ity on a frac­tious Bun­destag lower house that will in­clude two more par­ties af­ter Sun­day’s fed­eral elec­tion.

Merkel must as­sem­ble Ger­many’s first three-way coali­tion since the 1950s af­ter her con­ser­va­tives lost support and a far-right party, the anti-im­mi­grant Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many (AfD), en­tered par­lia­ment for the first time in 50 years.

An­drea Nahles, the So­cial Democrats’ newly elected par­lia­men­tary leader, told re­porters her party would hit con­ser­va­tives “squarely in the jaw” af­ter four years as junior part­ner in a Merkel-led “grand coali­tion.” Merkel’s most re­al­is­tic coali­tion op­tion now is a deal with the pro-busi­ness Free Democrats (FDP), re­turn­ing to par­lia­ment af­ter a four-year hia­tus, and the Greens.

But the par­ties dis­agree on is­sues such as en­ergy, Europe and mi­gra­tion, com­pli­cat­ing the path to a “Ja­maica” coali­tion – a ref­er­ence to the par­ties’ col­ors: black, yel­low and green, which are also those of the Ja­maican flag.

Schaeu­ble, 75, who emerged as one of Europe’s most in­flu­en­tial politi­cians dur­ing the eu­ro­zone cri­sis, will bring un­prece­dented weight to the role of Bun­destag pres­i­dent, nor­mally a low­pro­file po­si­tion. His will­ing­ness to quit as fi­nance min­is­ter af­ter eight years in the post makes it eas­ier for the FDP to join a Merkel-led coali­tion. The FDP, who are as fis­cally hawk­ish as Schaeu­ble, have said they want his old job.

“As an out­stand­ing per­son­al­ity Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble possesses a nat­u­ral au­thor­ity that is of par­tic­u­lar im­por­tance in these times,” said FDP leader Chris­tian Lind­ner, him­self seen as a likely suc­ces­sor at the fi­nance min­istry.

Lind­ner’s deputy, Wolf­gang Ku­bicki, an­other pos­si­ble can­di­date for the post, told the RND news­pa­per chain that Schaeu­ble’s move showed Merkel’s open­ness to a “Ja­maica” coali­tion.

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