Germany should know in the next 24 hours the make up of its new coalition government, after weeks of haggling between the prospective allies.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and her liberal FDP partner Guido Westerwelle are now down to the final discussions, hammering out ministerial posts in the new line-up. The big winner is CDU veteran Wolfgang Schauble who quits the interior ministry to run the economy. He is a political heavyweight, and the Chancellor wants him to lead Germany’s drive out of recession. Financing the health system was seen as an obstacle to a coalition deal, but it appears the two parties have reached agreement. “We have found a way that protects employment in Germany,” said Families Minister Ursula von der Leyen. “In the future, people’s jobs will not be threatened by the employers’ treatment costs as they used to be.” Germany’s existing health fund has a 7.5 billion euro deficit, and the FDP had wanted to abolish it, The Chancellor refused, but reforms will come in 2011. Health insurers will get increased autonomy, but patients may end up paying more.