"The curtain rises on the great coalition," headlines German daily Berliner Zeitung following the "yes vote of SPD members". On December 14, a total of 76 per cent of Social Democrat Party (SPD) members approved forming a government coalition with the conservative CDU/CSU. On December 17, "Angela Merkel can be sworn in as chancellor for the third time," the paper says.
Sigmar Gabriel, the chair of the SPD, is seen as the major victor. He will be appointed vice-chancellor and will head the newly created "super ministry" for economics and energy. Gabriel will have "as his primary mission the job of moving forward with the ambitious energy-transition project," the paper adds.
But "the greatest surprise," says the Berliner Zeitung, is the appointment of former labour minister, Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) to the post of minister of defence. This is the first time that woman is named to that post in Germany. Christian Democrat Wolfgang Schäuble will remain as finance minister to help ensure economic continuity. This move is strongly supported by another German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:
Merkel would not be Merkel if she were not armed for her third term [...]. Once again, she has anointed Wolfgang Schäuble as her primary knight, ready to draw his sword at all times in case the generous SPD tries to assert its reputation as the Nation's benefactor and dips too deeply into the Treasury's coffers.
Second to the energy transition, Europe is "the most significant project of this legislature," says website Spiegel Online. Yet, Spiegel has its doubts:
Wolfgang Schäuble remains at the head of the finance ministry and he has forged a reputation in Brussels as the man who says 'no'. [...] The chapter dedicated to Europe in the [coalition] contract is uninspired and leads to believe that the new government will rely on the European Central Bank and adopt as a motto: the ECB will find a solution.
Regarding the ECB, daily Frankfurter Rundschau notes that the appointment of Jörg Asmussen (SPD), who resigned from the ECB to join the new government as labour minister, is not only "a step backwards in his career," but also
a tough blow for Germany's position within the ECB. For years Merkel pushed to gain greater influence there. But Germany is not having much luck with its personnel. The president of the German Central Bank, Alex Weber, whom Merkel had designated as the next head of the ECB, upset the chancellor by opting to join UBS, a major Swiss bank. [...] And now Asmussen.
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