Merkel sworn in as German leader for fourth term

Angela Merkel was formally sworn in for a fourth term as German chancellor on Wednesday.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel being sworn in for her fourth term in office by the president of the Lower House of Parliament Wolfgang Schaeuble yesterday.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel being sworn in for her fourth term in office by the president of the Lower House of Parliament Wolfgang Schaeuble yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Probable last stint may be most challenging, with her authority dented

BERLIN • German Chancellor Angela Merkel took the oath of office in Parliament yesterday, launching her fourth, and probably 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 favour of re-electing Dr Merkel, a humbling start as the coalition of her conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) has 399 votes in the Bundestag Lower House of Parliament.

Dr Merkel, wearing a white blazer, said: "I accept the vote." The Chancellor beamed happily 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.

Ministers were to be sworn in later in the day - almost six months after last September's national election in which both coalition partners lost support to the far-right Alternative for Germany.

In office since 2005, Chancellor Merkel 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 migration, resulting in an influx of more than one million people.

She must now juggle competing domestic demands from her conservative Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union alliance and the SPD, just as Germany is locked in a trade stand-off with the United States.

"It is a good start for Germany to have a stable government... after so many months, there is now a big incentive to get down to work with energy," Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said.

In office since 2005, Dr Angela Merkel 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 migration, resulting in an influx of more than one million people.

Dr Merkel was to sit down later yesterday with her new Cabinet, in which the SPD has wrested both the trophy posts of finance and foreign affairs to the dismay of a growing band of critics within the Chancellor's party.

Tomorrow, Dr Merkel will head to Paris to discuss EU reform plans with French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of a March 22-23 summit, after a six-month stretch in which Berlin was hamstrung on the European and world stages.

Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday extended congratulations to Dr Merkel on her re-election. He said he attaches great importance to the development of the China-Germany relationship and was willing to work with Dr Merkel to improve ties.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2018, with the headline 'Merkel sworn in as German leader for fourth term'. Print Edition | Subscribe