In Brief

Angela Merkel in search of a legacy as she kicks off fourth term

Paucity of domestic policies suggests Europe will be main focus for re-elected German chancellor

Angela Merkel was formally sworn in today after being elected to serve a fourth term as chancellor by German lawmakers.

The vote in parliament ended almost six months of political turmoil, “after a federal election saw millions of voters desert the two mainstream parties” - Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) - “turning instead to parties on the Left and Right”, says CNN.

The chancellor’s re-election was carried with a majority of just nine votes above the threshold required (355 of 709 MPs).

Her narrow victory marks the final stepping stone on the path to Germany’s new government - a renewal of the so-called grand coalition, or “GroKo”, between her CDU and its alliance partner the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU), and the SPD.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” Merkel said after the formal signing of the coalition deal with the SPD on Monday.

In what The Guardian describes as a nod “to the language and concerns of the far-right”, Merkel vowed that her government would be a “grand coalition for the little people”.

She said that her new government would focus on “the integration of refugees, but also on the state’s ability to act when people have not been granted right of residence”.

Merkel’s newest, and probably her last, team “is much like her - dependable, if a bit boring”, says Politico.

But “after the tumultuous, six-month coalition-building phase, boring might be a good thing”, adds the website.

According to German newspaper Deutsche Welle, there will be a “wide variety of topics on the agenda at Merkel’s first cabinet meeting”, including domestic security; achieving full employment by 2025; protecting Europe’s external borders; and the relationship with the US, Russia and China.

But commentators believe that the overall scope for progress is limited.

On the domestic front, “the concessions and restraint required to pull the CDU, the CSU and the SPD back together for one more reluctant grand coalition made - perhaps unavoidably - for a fairly visionless coalition deal”, says The Economist

Europe may prove to be the one issue on which Merkel can make her mark. 

For months, “politicians of all stripes have spoken with somber urgency of the need for Berlin to formulate a response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposals for reforming the European Union”, says Politico’s Matthew Karnitschnig. 

Merkel now “has the time, opportunity and most importantly the good reasons to achieve something of substance on Europe, but only if she is willing to fight for it in Berlin”, adds The Economist. “Now to see if she does.”

Recommended

Quiz of The Week: 20 - 26 November
Boris Johnson leaves No. 10 to attend Prime Minister’s Questions
Quizzes and puzzles

Quiz of The Week: 20 - 26 November

Explosions in space: a Russian show of strength
Astronaut aboard the International Space Station
Global lens

Explosions in space: a Russian show of strength

The space mission launched to protect Earth
Asteroid flies through night sky
The latest on . . .

The space mission launched to protect Earth

Why record Channel drownings are unlikely to deter migrants
Migrants on the Channel
Getting to grips with . . .

Why record Channel drownings are unlikely to deter migrants

Popular articles

Vladimir Putin and his mysterious love life
Vladimir Putin and his now ex-wife Lyudmila Putina
Profile

Vladimir Putin and his mysterious love life

Trump ‘upset his son won’t say he loves him’
Donald and Barron Trump
Tall Tales

Trump ‘upset his son won’t say he loves him’

Woman who married herself divorcing after meeting someone else
A wedding ring
Tall Tales

Woman who married herself divorcing after meeting someone else

The Week Footer Banner