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German parliament chooses speaker as coalition talks continue

German parliament chooses speaker as coalition talks continue
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The new German parliament has been meeting for the first time since the general election exactly a month ago, and has chosen a new speaker.

Norbert Lammert, a Christian Democrat, was congratulated by his CDU party leader, Chancellor-designate Angela Merkel. Lammert was in charge of culture in her campaign. He replaces outgoing interior minister Otto Schily, of the Social Democrats. Under the constitution the parliament has to convene within 30 days of the election. The Christian Democrats and Social Democrats (SPD) have each named their eight ministers who will serve in a grand coalition government. But talks have just started on forming common policy. Ministers will not take up their posts until the talks finish. Otto Schily told deputies: “Our country’s policies should be directed towards Europe and towards the international stage. Policies geared towards a national horizon cannot work, given the conditions of globalisation and given German history.” Angela Merkel insists cutting unemployment and the budget deficit will be her priorities. The SPD says it will resist drastic labour market reforms.