Merkel: grand coalition to implement social cuts
Merkel elected as Germany’s chancellor: grand coalition to implement social cuts
By Ulrich Rippert
On November 22 Christian Democrat leader Angela Merkel was elected chancellor in the plenary hall of Berlin’s Reichstag. She received 397 votes of the 448 deputies belonging to the grand coalition of the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Fifty-one deputies from the “Union” and SPD factions refused to support her.
One of the first to congratulate Merkel was outgoing SPD chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Later, when the formal transfer of the chancellorship took place, Merkel thanked him for his co-operation and confidentiality over the past weeks during coalition negotiations.
In the days before Tuesday’s vote, the SPD had organised an intensive campaign to guarantee that all social democratic deputies voted for Merkel. By his own account, the new SPD parliamentary leader, Peter Struck, previously the defence minister, had held a “heart-to-heart” with all those SPD deputies who were wavering. The evening before the election, Struck had personally invited Merkel to a meeting of the SPD parliamentary faction to argue her case.
Merkel knows that she does not enjoy unconditional support in her own party, or in the CSU. Former CDU party chief Friedrich Merz had fiercely criticised the coalition contract with the SPD, saying it completely lacked the stamp of the Union. Moreover, in private, many Christian Democrats had criticised Merkel’s election campaign, which had led to the Union losing most of its initial lead of more than 20 percent over the SPD. She is accused of suppressing all internal party disputes over the election fiasco…