Merkel Stands Firm on German Coalition Deal in Rebuff to Critics

Sigmar Gabriel and Martin Schulz in July 2017

Sigmar Gabriel and Martin Schulz in July 2017

Angela Merkel said on Sunday that she intends to serve another full term as German chancellor, and denied that the "painful" concessions she was forced to make to the Social Democrats (SPD) during coalition negotiations have undermined her authority.

Germany's Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz has officially relinquished his bid to become foreign minister, and announced that he would not hold a cabinet post in the new coalition government.

In an interview with the ZDF public broadcaster, she commented on the rising displeasure among conservatives over her decision to give the SPD the powerful finance ministry.

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

"The transition to the post-Merkel era has begun", judged the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily, which added that Merkel's power was waning and "a unsafe mood" was starting to spread within her CDU.

Last September, the Social Democrats suffered their worst election result in decades, but remained the second-largest party in parliament.

In November, her efforts to form a government with two smaller parties failed, leaving the country in political deadlock and prompting some members of her CDU party to demand a succession plan.

A survey by pollsters Civey found this week that around 60 percent of SPD supporters would back the party entering government once again.

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Germany will no longer lecture other European countries over their economies, the next finance minister of the eurozone's richest nation said on February 10.

The SPD's 464,000 members have to ratify the four-year government program in a postal ballot. The results will be announced on March 4, according to party officials.

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.

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 the conservative party.

"I want to say that the we (the conservatives) have also approved the policies (in the agreement) and the finance minister can not simply do as he likes".

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.

The business wing of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives on Saturday vowed to block certain projects included in this week's coalition agreement with the Social Democrats (SPD), as tensions roiled both political blocs. "We agreed on a balanced budget, and European policy will be formulated jointly".

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