“Let’s get to work, Germany and Europe.”
With those seven words, Chief of Staff Peter Altmaier formalized Angela Merkel’s fourth term as Chancellor of Germany after the tumultuous 2017 parliamentary elections.
Merkel’s return to power was made possible when the Social Democrat Party (SDP) overwhelmingly voted to join the new government. For Merkel, it was more than a vote of confidence. SDP’s decision somewhat restored a sense of political stability in Germany.
It now makes it easier for Merkel to govern and pursue her priorities of working with French President Emmanuel Macron in their quest to strengthen the European Union and reinforce a more united European front versus the rising influence of China.
Prior to the vote, SPD leaders were hoping to get 60 percent of the vote. When the results were released, the tally was 66% in support of the Coalition and 34% against.
The outcome of the vote is certainly a breath of fresh air for Merkel after the September 2017 parliamentary elections which highlighted the party’s worst showing since 1949. The results of the elections plus the arrival of a Far-Right party in parliament appeared to have signalled a shift in Germany’s political landscape.
The Social Democrats will serve as Merkel’s junior partner for the third time. SDP Chairman Olaf Scholz is widely viewed as the front-runner candidate for the position of Finance Minister. The SDP plans to disclose their nominations for key cabinet positions on March 12.
Polls show that Merkel continues to retain a solid power base. 52 percent of the general public and 85% from her bloc report they are in favour of Merkel serving another term.
Only 35 percent of her bloc is in favour of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) to move toward the Right.
Merkel’s official inauguration as German Chancellor is expected to take place in mid- March.