An­gela Merkel nar­rowly elected to fourth term as Ger­man chan­cel­lor

The Free Press Journal - - WORLD -

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, bruised by half a year of post-elec­tion coali­tion hag­gling, was on Wed­nes­day nar­rowly con­firmed by par­lia­ment to her fourth and likely fi­nal term at the helm of Europe's big­gest econ­omy.

Law­mak­ers in Ber­lin's glass­domed Re­ich­stag voted 364-315 with nine ab­sten­tions for Merkel, who was then for­mally ap­pointed by Pres­i­dent Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier be­fore tak­ing the oath of of­fice. The out­come of the se­cret bal­lot sug­gested 35 law­mak­ers of her new right-left coali­tion bloc voted against Merkel, giv­ing her a thin nine-vote mar­gin that op­po­si­tion par­ties were quick to la­bel a "rocky start" for a spent and joy­less gov­ern­ing al­liance.

Merkel, wear­ing a neck­lace in the na­tional colours black-red­gold, nev­er­the­less beamed with joy and re­lief as ap­plause filled the Bun­destag cham­ber, where her sci­en­tist hus­band Joachim Sauer and her 89-year-old mother Her­lind Kas­ner were among the well-wish­ers.

For the vet­eran leader, the cer­e­mony marked the end of a painful stretch of post-elec­tion paral­y­sis, the deep­est cri­sis of her 12-year ca­reer, re­ports AFP.

A right-wing pop­ulist rise in Septem­ber elec­tions weak­ened all main­stream par­ties and de­prived Merkel of a ma­jor­ity, forc­ing her into an­other un­happy al­liance with the cen­tre-left So­cial Demo­cratic Party (SPD).

The grand coali­tion, mock­ingly dubbed a "GroKo" in Ger­man, didn't start as a "love mar­riage", her des­ig­nated vice chan­cel­lor and fi­nance min­is­ter, the SPD's Olaf Scholz, drily ob­served this week. All coali­tion part­ners have nonethe­less sought to al­lay fears that their mar­riage of con­ve­nience could break up mid-term, in­sist­ing they plan to jointly gov­ern un­til 2021, re­ports AFP.

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