Germany: Merkel calls for younger ministers in new government

Bavarian state Premier Horst Seehofer and Munich mayor Dieter Reiter REUTERS  Michaela Rehle

Bavarian state Premier Horst Seehofer and Munich mayor Dieter Reiter REUTERS Michaela Rehle

German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed on Sunday to serve another full four-year term despite growing criticism within her conservative ranks of the sweeping concessions she made to hold onto power.

The chancellor acknowledged in a Sunday interview with ZDF public television that it "was painful" to hand the powerful finance ministry to the Social Democrats. She also sought to forestall calls by some in her Christian Democratic Union to move toward giving up the party chairmanship.

On Saturday the SPD's Olaf Scholz, who is expected to become finance minister, said Germany should not tell other European countries how to run their economies and that mistakes had been made. The coalition deal also saw the previously CDU-held Interior Ministry head to the CSU, where party leader Horst Seehofer will reportedly take the lead.

"I understand the disappointment", she said, but stressed that she "naturally" planned to stick with her pledge to stay on for four years as chancellor and party chief rather than make way for a successor before the end of the term.

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

News weekly Der Spiegel in a cover illustration showed a nude Merkel, with gleeful SPD figures running off with her clothes.

"We shouldn't only talk about how we want to shape the next four years in Germany but also what the CDU will stand for in future, which topics we can win elections with in the next 10 years and people go along with topics", he said. The CDU has six ministerial posts to fill.

The names of the CDU politicians who will fill the empty ministry posts will be announced by February 26, when party delegates meet to decide on the coalition deal.

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.

Mr Schulz on Wednesday renounced the party leadership to snatch the foreign minister's post from Mr Gabriel, then, after an outcry, gave up the top diplomat's post too. The results of the postal ballot will be announced on March 4.

Merkel's standing in her party was weakened following last September's general election that saw the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) snag votes away from all of Germany's major parties.

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