Published: Mon, February 12, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Angela Merkel insists 'painful' coalition talks have not undermined her authority

Angela Merkel insists 'painful' coalition talks have not undermined her authority

However, Merkel, who has led Germany since 2005, said she plans to run the country as chancellor for the full four-year term.

Merkel, now serving as acting chancellor, suggested that last week's marathon coalition talks with the Social Democrats were on the brink of collapse over the smaller party's cabinet demands.

The SPD snatched the powerful finance, foreign and labor ministries, as well as the justice and environment portfolios, while Merkel's Bavarian allies the CSU took the interior ministry.

But she added that it would have been "irresponsible" to allow the negotiations to collapse.

With many in the CDU unhappy about the loss of the key Finance Ministry, previously headed by European Union austerity advocate Wolfgang Schäuble, Merkel said the criticism was not a sign that her authority in the party was declining.

"These four years are what I promised", she said.

Dr Merkel's internal party critics accuse her of negotiating badly and sacrificing the key finance ministry, putting her personal future ahead of political policy.

Spahn, fearing a weakening of Berlin's tough austerity-for-reforms stance for indebted eurozone economies, mused that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras may now "pop the champagne corks".

Others called for a renewal of the Christian Democrat leadership, a barely disguised push for Merkel's replacement.

Conservative lawmaker Christean Wagner even suggested that, after the party's "electoral disaster", its leader should "think about a successor", while bemoaning that the touchy issue was not being openly discussed.

Merkel, 63, who long seemed immune to criticism from within her own ranks, came under fire this week after agreeing to have just six ministers in the cabinet - the same number as the SPD, which won fewer votes in the election.

Losing the finance ministry was "painful", she conceded, but she stressed that the move was "acceptable", since the alternative would have been a breakdown in talks, and likely snap elections.

Senior figures of Social Democratic Party (SPD), including the current Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, have publicly criticized Schulz and accused him of not keeping his promises. Both men may now watch the next government from the backbenches.

Schulz, who originally strongly opposed another tie-up with the conservatives only to become one of its leading advocates, has lost political credibility but hopes his decision to step aside will now encourage SPD members to back the coalition deal.

With that she dampened expectations that, with Berlin's coveted finance ministry returning to the SPD, Germany's European Union partners can expect looser German purse strings in the euro reform debate.

Like this: