Angela Merkel elected to rare third term as German chancellor

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Berlin, Dec 17: Angela Merkel was on Monday overwhelmingly elected as German chancellor for a rare third term after she struck a hard-fought deal with her centre-left rivals to end months of political limbo in Europe's biggest economy.

Merkel's conservatives had secured a stunning hat-trick win in the September 22 elections but failed to grab an outright majority, forcing her to enter into lengthy coalition talks with the rival Social Democrats (SPD). With a whopping 504 of the 631 seats, 59-year-old Merkel's centre-right Christian Democrats Union (CDU) bloc and the SPD now hold a comfortable majority in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, under their hard-fought 'grand coalition' deal.

Merkel's conservatives had secured a stunning hat-trick win in the Sept 22 polls

"I accept the election result and thank you for your trust," said Merkel after the confirmation vote in the Bundestag. Smiling, she received a bouquet of flowers and shook hands with other MPs. Germany's first female chancellor was confirmed by 462 votes today, with nine abstentions.

For the vote, 621 members of parliament were present, of whom 150 voted against Merkel. She would visit President Joachim Gauck at his palace before returning to parliament to be sworn in as Germany's only third post-war chancellor to win a third four-year term after her mentor Helmut Kohl (1982-1998) and Konrad Adenauer (1949-1963).

Germany's tough stance on fiscal discipline is unlikely to change under the new coalition. The SPD lawmakers voted on Sunday to back the coalition after painstaking negotiations. The party hammered out a minimum national wage, an hourly rate of USD 11.55 that will come into force for the first time in 2015.

The new government will be slightly to the left of the previous one, in which the CDU were in coalition with the market-oriented Free Democrats (FDP), BBC reported. But the SPD will form a minority part of the government and no one doubts that Merkel will be in charge.

As the EU's most industrialised and populous state, with its biggest economy, Germany dominates decision-making for the eurozone.

PTI

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