Merkel Germany's Next Chancellor, Speculation Schroeder Will Step Back from Public Life
At a news conference today, Angela Merkel (CDU/CSU) confirmed that she will be Germany's next Chancellor and Germany's first ever woman Chancellor. The decision was cemented in a deal reached between Merkel's Christian Democrats and Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats on the future makeup of Germany's government. Initial reports on Gerhard Schroeder are conflicting, but this much is clear: Gerhard Schroeder has now been officially voted-out of office as Germany's Chancellor and his seven year administration will soon be at an end.
The result will be a "Grand Coalition" between Germany's two largest parties with details to be hammered out in negotiations over the next several weeks. A formal coalition contract detailing future government policy and personnel is scheduled to be signed and sealed by mid-November, but the media is already reporting on how the top positions will be distributed...
"Grand Coalition": Social Democrats to Receive Eight Ministries Including Foreign Ministry
Although the Christian Democrats and their partners from Bavaria (CDU/CSU) have asserted control in Germany and pushed Gerhard Schroeder aside, it did not come cheaply. The CDU/CSU's poor election results left the party with a small one point lead over the Social Democrats and put them in a weaker bargaining position than anyone might have expected. The result? A "Grand Coalition" in which the SPD will likely receive eight ministerial positions (out of a total of fourteen) including the Foreign Ministry, far more than anyone would have predicted pre-election.
The CDU/CSU will receive the remaining six ministries along with the Chancellery and Minister of the Chancellery. That translates into the following: The SPD will have the same number of seats at Merkel's cabinet table (eight) as the CDU/CSU. In parliament the CDU/CSU will have nearly the same number of seats as the SPD: 226 to 222 respectively. Needless to say we predicted this: Gridlock anyone?
Foreign Minister Struck In? Schroeder Out?
The current Defense Minister, Peter Struck (SPD) is slated to be the next Foreign Minister according to SPIEGEL ONLINE, but the ARD is reporting that he has denied it. (This is the same Struck who seems to have a rocky relationship with Donald Rumsfeld. Some of the German media reported last June that Rumsfeld cancelled a meeting with Struck because he assumed he was a lame duck.)
Right now there is an enormous amount of speculation going on as the news develops. Please bear with us as events progress and the dust settles. Some German media are reporting that German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has stated that it is his intent to withdraw from politics. So far we have not seen an absolute confirmation of this but it seems likely. Formal coalition talks are to begin in the coming weeks and everything should be worked-out by mid-November. We will continue to monitor the conflicting reports and bring you the latest. Stay tuned...