Germany’s conservatives, led by Chancellor-designate Angela Merkel, and the Social Democrats have put pen to paper to form the first “grand coalition” since 1969.
The ceremony took place exactly two months after the inconclusive general election. Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) have six cabinet posts, including defence and economic affairs, while the CSU, a sister party, has two. The Social Democrats (SPD) have the top jobs in eight ministries including foreign affairs and labour. The coalition document, running to almost 190 pages, lays out policies for the next four years. It includes plans to rein in Germany’s public sector deficit, raise sales tax by three percent in 2007 and promote economic growth. The CDU claims the deal outlines some of its main goals, such as Germany acting as a partner of the United States rather than a counterweight to it. Parliament is expected to formally approve Merkel as the country’s first woman chancellor on Tuesday.