German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she wants gradual change rather than radical reform.
The winner of Sunday’s general election was speaking ahead of talks with her new coalition partner, FDP leader Guido Westerwelle. He is riding high after his party’s best ever electoral performance and wants a tax cutting deal with Merkel. But policies aside, first there is the question of who gets what job. Angela Merkel has announced she wants to welcome heads of state and other guests to the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9 with a new German government. The FDP, last in government in 1998, is likely to get three or four ministries. Traditionally it has controlled the foreign, economic and justice portfolios. But there is a problem. Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg holds the economy post. He had the best election night of Merkel’s Bavarian sister party, the CSU and will be difficult to remove. He could go if offered the foreign office but Westerwelle wants that. Then there is Wolfgang Schauble. He is currently Germany’s interior minister and a Merkel advisor but his hardline stance on civil rights and security, clashes with the more liberal elements of the FDP and their supporters. Tough talking is expected on policies but forming a government is the first big hurdle.