Merkel Elected For Third Term As German Chancellor

Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel

Germany’s parliament elected Angela Merkel as chancellor for a third term Tuesday, ending nearly three months of uncertainty since elections that forced her to seek a ‘grand coalition’ with her rivals.

Merkel, who is now set to govern Europe’s top economy for another four years, was re-elected by 462 members of the Bundestag lower house of parliament, with 150 voting against and nine abstentions.

The new left-right government faces a host of challenges, from bedding down European reforms aimed at shielding the bloc from future crises to seeing through Merkel’s costly switch from nuclear to renewable energy.

Merkel now heads a “grand coalition” of Germany’s biggest parties – her conservative Union bloc and the center-left Social Democrats, which are traditional rivals. Parliament’s lower house elected her as chancellor by 462 votes to 150, with nine abstentions.

The new government will move Germany somewhat leftward, for example introducing a national minimum wage, but will take a largely unchanged approach to Europe’s debt crisis.

It features Germany’s first female defence minister, conservative Ursula von der Leyen, and sees former foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a Social Democrat, return to his old job. Finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, a powerful figure in Europe’s debt crisis, is staying on.

The parties’ efforts to form a government after national elections on 22 September, in which Merkel’s conservatives came close to a parliamentary majority but saw their previous coalition partners lose all their seats, has been the longest in post-second world war Germany.

At least 42 government politicians didn’t vote for the chancellor on Tuesday but, given the new coalition’s enormous majority, that is unlikely to worry her.