New coalition govt in Germany

A combination of photos shows the proposed new German coalition government which comes from the three parties in the incoming centre-right government — Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, the Bavarian Christian Social Union and the FDP.  REUTERS

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday announced a new, centre-right government with the Free Democrats, saying the coalition will “bravely solve the problems that are lying ahead of us.”

She detailed some of the cornerstone measures in her new government’s platform, including an overhaul of the country’s health care system, an increase in child subsidies and future tax cuts. Merkel’s Christian Democrats, their Bavarian-only sister party Christian Social Union and the pro-business Free Democrats came to a coalition agreement after nearly four weeks of negotiations following the September 27 election.

Guido Westerwelle, the leader of the Free Democrats, said at a joint news conference with Merkel that the coalition agreement was “a great compass for our country.”

He also said he wants all nuclear weapons to be pulled out of Germany, an issue that may prove vexing to the country’s Nato allies, including the US.

The coalition agreement is expected to be approved and signed on Monday. The chancellor announced some new members of her new cabinet, while Westerwelle said he would present the Free Democrats’ ministers to his party first and announce them later.
Westerwelle himself is expected to take over the posts of foreign minister and vice chancellor.

Merkel said that current Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg will become the defence minister tasked with handling Germany’s unpopular mission in Afghanistan. He replaces Franz Josef Jung, who is to take over at the Labour Ministry. Germany’s veteran interior minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, was expected to take the key position of finance minister, a move that would put the 67-year-old member of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats in charge of tending Germany’s strained budget.

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