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Merkel, first German woman elected Chancellor

Angela Merkel, first German woman elected Chancellor

Germany has its first woman Chancellor, something of a milestone in postwar German history. In a parliamentary ballot held this morning (November 22) Angela Merkel (CDU) received 397 votes, considerably more than the simple majority needed to be elected. A total of 612 ballots were cast, 611 were valid, there were 12 abstentions, and 202 MPs voted against Merkel.

The CDU/CSU and SPD signed a coalition agreement November 18. The new cabinet, consisting of fifteen ministers plus Chancellor Merkel, was sworn in this afternoon.

In a statement made after the outcome of the vote was announced, speaker of parliament Norbert Lammert (CDU) said: "This is a strong signal for many women, and doubtless for a number of men as well." The outgoing Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder (SPD), was the first to congratulate Merkel.

After her election Merkel drove to Charlottenburg Castle, where President Horst Köhler presented her with a certificate of appointment. She is the eighth postwar German Chancellor and the first eastern German to hold this office.

After that she returned to the Bundestag to take the oath of office in the presence of the other members of parliament.

Chancellery handover

In the afternoon Gerhard Schröder handed over the reins of government to Angela Merkel at the Chancellery, wishing her good luck and success in her work for the country. Schröder had words of praise for the Chancellery staff, telling Merkel she would be able to rely on each and every one of them.

The new Chancellor thanked the staff for the friendly reception and said she would take up her work "with an open heart and an alert mind", adding that the job the German electorate expects the new government to do can only be done successfully if everyone works together.

Turning to Schröder, Merkel said: "You set milestones with Agenda 2010 and numerous other things that we will be able to continue, and I say this regardless of the fact that we were not always of the same opinion."

Applause for outgoing Chancellor

The Chancellery staff gave a long round of applause for the outgoing Chancellor as well as for the new Chancellor.

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