Published: Thu, March 15, 2018
World | By Melba Underwood

Angela Merkel elected to 4th term in Germany

Angela Merkel elected to 4th term in Germany

German lawmakers have officially elected Chancellor Angela Merkel to continue leading the country for a fourth term after months of grueling coalition talks that left the country in limbo following elections in September.

Another new addition to Ms Merkel's top team is Heiko Maas, the new foreign minister who replaces fellow Social Democrat, Sigmar Gabriel. Two-thirds of SPD members finally approved the agreement just under two weeks ago, paving the way for a new grand coalition government under Merkel's leadership.

"It shows the chancellor has lost authority", said Christian Lindner, leader of the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), who walked out of coalition talks last November.

An unidentified man outside the parliament in Berlin confronted German chancellor Angela Merkel as she was leaving on Wednesday.

Speaking after the vote, she told the Bundestag lower house of parliament: "I accept the vote".

Wednesday's parliamentary vote to re-elect Merkel came 171 days after the election, almost double the previous record.

However, nearly six months on from a historic defeat for her CDU, the relief on Wednesday was overshadowed by ill omens for the looming term.

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 center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD).

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Merkel can turn her attention fully to matters such as French President Emmanuel Macron's months-old proposals for ambitious reforms of the EU and its currency union, and U.S. President Donald Trump's threats of trade tariffs against the EU and even taxes on German automakers.

"There has been a lot of criticism of her, but people have time and again underestimated Merkel and predicted her imminent demise".

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said it was "high time for a new government" to go to work.

The rest of Merkel's new-look 16-member Cabinet will be sworn in later Wednesday.

Bundestag speaker Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany's former hard-line finance minister, disqualified the ballot of Petr Bystron of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and fined him after the MP posted the image on Twitter.

At home, Merkel will have to hold together potentially her most fragile governing coalition yet in what is widely expected to be her last term.

The grand coalition accounts for 399 votes in the Bundestag.

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