Schröder gives up German chancellorship ambitions, makes way for Merkel
Monday, October 10, 2005
Social Democrat Gerhard Schröder has given up his ambition to be chancellor in a future government and cleared the way for the current opposition leader, Christian Democrat Angela Merkel, to become the first female chancellor in the history of Germany, officials for both parties confirmed.
Both Schröder and Merkel previously insisted that they become head of government, making chancellorship the all deciding issue whether to form a coalition. Now Schröder is reportedly resigning from politics, but while he may not be in the next government, his withdrawal comes at a high price for the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU).
The Social Democrats (SPD) will take eight minister posts, against six for the CDU/CSU. But who will occupy these posts has yet to be determined. Beside various rumors in Berlin, it has only been confirmed so far that the current Bavarian governor Edmund Stoiber will take over as minister for economy and technology. The agreement, negotiated between Schröder, Merkel, Stoiber, and SPD chair Franz Müntefering, has already been approved by both parties' leadership committees.
Official negotiations for all the details of the future coalition are scheduled to begin next Monday and are expected to last until at least November 12.
The early federal election on September 18 produced an effective stalemate as both CDU/CSU and the SPD got approximately the same votes, with CDU/CSU having a narrow lead of 4 seats in the Bundestag. Neither party was able to form a coalition with their preferred partner, FDP and the Greens, respectively, forcing them to enter talks to form a grand coalition.
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