Merkel’s CDU votes on German coalition deal after new cabinet picks

Germany’s Christian Democrats (CDU) meet on Monday to approve a coalition deal with the Social Democrats (SPD), a move that will take their leader, Angela Merkel, a step closer to a fourth term as chancellor in Europe’s biggest economy. The last major hurdle to end a five-month political impasse after a Sept. 24 election, however, comes next week. On March 4, the results of a postal vote by SPD members vote will be announced, and that result is far less certain. The party conference follows Merkel’s announcement of her CDU picks for a new, younger cabinet intended to revive the party, which has descended into rows about how to respond to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). Merkel is to address CDU delegates at the meeting before the vote on the deal, which is expected to go through easily. The conference will also vote on the appointment of her close ally Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as CDU general secretary, who is widely seen as her preferred successor. Dubbed “mini-Merkel” by some media, the Saarland state premier, 55, shares many of Merkel’s views – but not all. Her Catholic, western German background contrasts with Merkel’s Protestant, eastern roots. While socially conservative, known for opposing gay marriage, Kramp-Karrenbauer is a strong supporter of the minimum wage and worker rights. After 12 years as chancellor and almost 18 years in charge of her party, Merkel’s authority is waning and on Sunday, she responded to growing calls for new blood at the top of the CDU…. [Read full story]

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