Bundestag officially re-elects Merkel as chancellor

Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to be sworn in on Wednesday after the Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament, re-elected her in the morning. She is scheduled to dine later with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris.




German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her new cabinet members took the oath of office in a ceremony in Berlin on Wednesday afternoon.

With the words "so help me God," Merkel officially started her second term in office.

Federal President Horst Koehler spoke as the cabinet members took their oath. "Difficult tasks lay ahead of you," he said, warning them against "unrealistic hopes for economic growth."

Koehler added that he wished them to "work once more towards the goal of reducing the public deficit."

Earlier in the day, the lower house of the German parliament, the Bundestag, re-elected Angela Merkel as the country’s chancellor in its opening session.

"I accept the result and thank you for your trust," she told parliamentarians after the vote. She received bouquets of flowers and applause in the main chamber of the Reichstag parliament building.

The day will wind up for Merkel with a dinner hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysée Palace in Paris, ahead of a European Council meeting in Brussels Thursday.

Heading for a tax-reform agenda

Merkel is taking over as head of a centre-right/pro-business coalition of Christian Democrats and the Free Democratic Party. The two camps signed a deal last week over the composition of a cabinet and policy programme.

The new coalition marks a change in governance from that of the previous “grand coalition” of the the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, Germany’s two largest parties, who had difficulty agreeing on reforms. The new coalition partners share many more goals, and have already agreed on a large swath of economic measures.

Those measures include a 24-billion euro tax cut and increases in education spending. According to FRANCE 24 correspondent Damien McGuiness, Merkel’s new coalition allows her to more easily enact her agenda, but she still faces considerable criticism in Germany.

“For critics on the Right, there’s not enough economic reform... Critics on the left say that cuts in taxes will ultimately lead to a smaller welfare state,” said McGuinness.

Merkel was elected to her second term on September 27.

Building on Franco-German relations

Sarkozy and Merkel’s dinner comes a day before a European Council meeting in Brussels.

Numerous media reports say that Sarkozy will invite Merkel to speak at the celebrations of Armistice Day, at the base of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on November 11.

Sarkozy is himself scheduled to appear at the ceremonies on November 9 marking the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall, which will be broadcast live on a giant screen at the Place de la Concorde in Paris.


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