Merkel begins 4th term as chancellor

Source:Reuters Published: 2018/3/14 23:08:41

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is sworn in by Wolfgang Schaeuble, President of the German lower house of Parliament Bundestag, during the government's swearing-in ceremony at the Bundestag in Berlin on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

German lawmakers voted on Wednesday to re-elect Angela Merkel as chancellor for a fourth, and likely final, term that may prove her most challenging yet as she takes charge of a fragile coalition with her personal standing diminished.

Lawmakers voted by 364 to 315, with nine abstentions, in favor of re-electing Merkel, a humbling start as the coalition of her conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) has 399 votes in the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

"I accept the vote," a beaming Merkel, 63, told lawmakers before being sworn in by Bundestag President Wolfgang Schaeuble.

In office since 2005, she has dominated Germany's political landscape and steered the European Union through economic crisis.

But her authority was dented by her decision in 2015 to commit Germany to an open-door policy on refugees, resulting in an influx of more than one million people that laid bare deep divisions within the EU over migration.

While also being locked in a trade stand-off with the US, Merkel must now juggle competing domestic demands from within her coalition.

Her conservative CDU/CSU alliance only turned to the SPD to prolong the 'grand coalition' that has governed Germany since 2013 out of desperation, after talks on a three-way alliance with two smaller parties collapsed last November.

Ministers, younger and more diverse than the last cabinet, take up their posts almost six months after last September's national election in which both coalition partners lost support to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

"I have the feeling that nothing good is going to be done for the country in this legislature period," said Alice Weidel, the AfD's leader in parliament.

"It will probably be Angela Merkel's last term and at some point it will be enough."


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