Germany to start work on trade, China, Syria war, says Merkel

Reuters

Reuters

With Merkel's bloc and the second-place Social Democrats in government, the right-wing Alternative for Germany, or AfD, now represents the biggest opposition party in Parliament, giving it a prominent platform to attack the chancellor.

Merkel is due to be re-elected by parliament as chancellor on March 14, said Volker Kauder, parliamentary chief of her CDU party.

Paris: French President Emmanuel Macron has congratulated German Chancellor Angela Merkel and acting SPD leader Olaf Scholz after Germany's Social Democrats voted in favour of forming a new coalition, the French presidency said on Sunday.

Merkel, who has proved herself a shrewd global negotiator during more than 12 years in office, faced her greatest challenge at home after deciding to allow over a million asylum-seekers into Germany since 2015.

The SPD initially planned to go into opposition after a disastrous result in September's election, but agreed to negotiate with Merkel's conservatives after talks with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the environmentalist Greens on a three-way tie-up collapsed in November.

Merkel walks in to give a statement prior to a CDU leadership meeting at the party headquarters in Berlin.

Angela Merkel has welcomed the decision by members of Germany's Social Democratic Party to support a coalition government with the long-time chancellor.

But the two blocs' weak performances in last September's election, when they both suffered their worst results since Germany became a republic in 1949, mean the latest incarnation of their awkward alliance promises to be the most fractious yet.

With the party riven over its way forward, its leadership promised its more than 460,000 members the final say on any coalition deal.

They thrashed out a coalition agreement which SPD leaders hailed for its commitments to strengthening the European Union and giving them some key government roles.

The decision clears the last major hurdle to the formation of a new government and a fourth term for Merkel.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert says such measures "would sorely affect global trade flows", European industries and in particular "workers and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic".

The coalition agreement announced February 7 specified the division of ministries between the parties with the CDU regaining the economy ministry (BMWi) including energy for the first time since the 1960s. The radical youth wing had opposed the coalition. But crucially, at a congress this week, her party also formally appointed its new general secretary, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, tapped by Merkel to kickstart the renewal process.

She added, "The new government has a lot of work ahead of it that needs to be started soon".

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