Vote Launches New Four-Year Term German Parliament Re-Elects Merkel as Chancellor
Angela Merkel's second four-year term as German chancellor officially began on Wednesday when parliament re-elected her to the office. But it wasn't a complete success for the Christian Democrat: Not all parliamentarians belonging to her center-right coalition cast their ballots for her.
The German parliament re-elected Chancellor Angela Merkel to a second four-year term on Wednesday, two days after her conservatives and her new government partner, the pro-business Free Democrat Party (FDP), signed a coalition deal that includes 24 billion ($35.5 billion) in tax cuts to revive Europe's largest economy.
Merkel got 323 votes out of 612 present in the Reichstag parliament building. That is comfortably ahead of the 312 votes she needs for an absolute majority in the 622-seat parliament.
However, the coalition of Christian Democrats, the Bavarian Christian Social Union and the FDP has a total of 332 seats, and all of its members of parliament were reported as present for Wednesday's vote. That means that not all MPs from her coalition voted for her in the secret ballot.
A total of 285 MPs voted against Merkel, and there were four abstentions.
Merkel and her 15 cabinet ministers will be formally sworn in on Wednesday afternoon. The cabinet will hold its first meeting later in the day. She will outline her government's program for the next four years in an address to parliament on November 10, the day after the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Merkel, 55, has been German chancellor since November 2005. The federal election on Sept. 27 allowed her to end what had been an awkward coalition with the center-left Social Democrats and form an alliance with the FDP, her preferred partner.
She has faced criticism from within her own ranks for planning bold tax cuts at a time when government debt has ballooned as a result of the financial and economic crisis. But Merkel has argued forcefully that there is no alternative to cutting taxes to support the fragile economic recovery.
cro -- with wire reports