German Chancellor Merkel Defends Painful Coalition Concessions, Denies Authority Waning

Olaf Scholz

Olaf Scholz

Asked whether she was planning to groom a successor to lead her conservatives in the next election, Merkel said she wanted a younger generation of her Christian Democrats (CDU) to fill ministerial posts in a renewed coalition with the SPD.

"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.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday struck back against criticism from her fellow Christian Democrats (CDU) over the decision to forfeit several top ministerial positions to the Social Democrats (SPD) in the new coalition deal.

Handing over the finance ministry - long the domain of Merkel lieutenant and fiscal hawk Wolfgang Schaeuble - "was one concession too many", fumed lawmaker Wolfgang Bosbach, reflecting a widely held view in theconservative party.

The Chancellor also emphasized "now we need to show that we can start with a new team".

Merkel denied that she has lost authority inside her own party, despite having faced some unrest within her conservative ranks over the coalition deal.

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

Last week, she secured a deal with the SPD to renew a right-left alliance that has ruled Germany since 2013 after making painful concessions on Europe and fiscal policy as well as ceding the finance ministry.

The leader of the SPD's youth wing is travelling around Germany urging the party's 464,000 members to vote against the deal in the postal ballot.

She rejected a suggestion that generous concessions to the SPD had weakened her position in the CDU, saying she had chose to cut a deal for the sake of Germany.

The SPD have criticised Schaeuble's "forced austerity" on southern European countries like Greece and had vowed in the election campaign to boost investment. The binding vote is due to be held between February 20 and the first weekend of March.

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