Smiles from Angela Merkel but she faces a tough road ahead

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Smiles from Angela Merkel but she faces a tough road ahead

Smiles from Angela Merkel but she faces a tough road ahead
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It may be celebrations for Angela Merkel as she toasts a third term as German chancellor – but does she face a difficult future?

Merkel’s conservatives scored their best result in over two decades in a German election but were forced into lengthy coalition talks with the rival Social Democrats (SPD), whose members only approved the deal last weekend.

The vote in the Bundestag was a formality as the ruling parties hold an overwhelming majority of the seats.

A total of 462 Members of Parliament backed Merkel for chancellor, with 150 voting against and nine abstaining.

The new government faces a host of challenges, from bedding down European reforms aimed at shielding the bloc from future crises, to seeing through Merkel’s costly switch from nuclear to renewable energy.

Germany’s tough stance on fiscal discipline is unlikely to change under the new coalition.

The SPD’s membership voted on Sunday to back the coalition after painstaking negotiations.

The party hammered out a minimum national wage that will come into force for the first time in 2015.

As the EU’s most industrialised state with the biggest economy, Germany dominates decision-making for the eurozone.

“I accept the election result and thank you for your trust,” said Mrs Merkel after the confirmation vote in the Bundestag. Smiling, she received a bouquet of flowers and shook hands with other MPs.

The coalition talks had been the longest for any German government since since World War II.

Trusted Merkel ally, Wolfgang Schaeuble will remain finance minister in the new government, one of 10 CDU/CSU politicians in the 16-strong cabinet.

“His name stands for euro stability and I’m glad that he’s continuing,” Mrs Merkel said after news of the new line-up emerged.

Other CDU/CSU picks include Ursula von der Leyen as defence minister and Thomas de Maiziere as interior minister.

The SPD chairman Sigmar Gabriel will become economy minister and deputy chancellor, while Frank-Walter Steinmeier will be foreign minister.

Germany’s newspapers welcomed the ministerial line-up agreed between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU and Gabriel’s SPD.

The team is seen as a better reflection of society than previous cabinets.

The decision to pick a woman for the post of defence minister wins particular praise, but a new digital infrastructure portfolio raises eyebrows.

The nomination of Christian Democrat Ursula von der Leyen as the new defence minister is generally seen as a big surprise. The daily Die Welt even talks of a “sensation”.