Schaeu­ble to head Ger­man par­lia­ment

CDU, SPD neck-&-neck


BER­LIN, Sept 28, (RTRS): Ger­many took a first de­ci­sive step on Wed­nes­day to­wards 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 euro zone 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 half a cen­tury. In a sign of the chal­lenges ahead, 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 so­called ‘Ja­maica’ coali­tion — a ref­er­ence to the par­ties’ colours: 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 low-pro­file 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. He also un­der­scored his party’s call for a shift in fis­cal pol­icy.

Merkel’s Chris­tian Democrats (CDU) and the ri­val So­cial Democrats (SPD) are neck-and-neck ahead of a cru­cial re­gional elec­tion in the state of Lower Sax­ony, an in­frat­est dimap poll showed on Thursday.

The Oct 15 snap elec­tion is be­ing fol­lowed un­usu­ally closely be­cause it fol­lows just three weeks af­ter na­tional elec­tions and will de­lay fed­eral coali­tion ne­go­ti­a­tions, since par­ties are re­luc­tant to alien­ate core vot­ers by mak­ing com­pro­mises ahead of a key re­gional vote.

The poll placed the CDU on 35 per­cent, just ahead of the SPD on 34 per­cent. The Greens were in third place on 9 per­cent, fol­lowed by the pro-busi­ness Free Democrats on 8 per­cent.

The rad­i­cal Left party was on 5 per­cent and the far­right Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many (AfD) party was on 6 per­cent.

Lead­ers of Merkel’s Chris­tian Demo­cratic Union (CDU) and its Bavar­ian sis­ter party will meet on Oct 8 to dis­cuss a fu­ture coali­tion with other par­ties fol­low­ing Sun­day’s elec­tion, con­ser­va­tive sources said.

Months of un­cer­tainty loom in Ger­many, Europe’s big­gest econ­omy, af­ter Merkel’s con­ser­va­tives won a fourth term in the elec­tion but bled sup­port to the far­right Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many (AfD).

Bavaria’s Chris­tian So­cial Union (CSU) has sig­nalled it wants a right­ward shift to fo­cus on se­cu­rity and im­mi­gra­tion curbs to dampen the ap­peal of the AfD to its vot­ers.


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