With a handshake, it was done. Chancellor Angela Merkel and liberal leader Guido Westerwelle have formally signalled their intention to form a new governing coalition, after the liberals did enough to consign Germany’s uneasy left-right ‘grand coalition’ to history. The big winners of Germany’s election can look forward to the next four years, after voters backed a conservative, pro-business coalition to lead them back to prosperity.
Merkel though, was careful to project a human face on victory: “Obviously we have to make sure that we keep the balance between employers and employees here in Germany,” she said. “We are going through tough economic times, and we must ensure that the balance between hire- and fire- is reasonable.” The Chancellor’s new partners must feel like they’ve won the lottery.They’re in government and can put their ideas into practice. “I think we Germans can make a valuable contribution to the debate on disarmament,” said Westerwelle. “We want negotiations so that the last nuclear weapons still stationed in Germany, relics of the Cold War, can be removed.” Germany will soon know the make-up of its new government, but talks are expected to be tough, as the FDP has more ambitious plans than Merkel’s conservatives. The atmosphere is so far said to be excellent, but Merkel has let it be known she will not shift too far to the right.