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Germany

Party Supports Merkel as Chancellor

The knives are back in their sheaths. The overwhelming support for Angela Merkel from her own party has defused speculation that she doesn't have the backing to become Germany's next chancellor.

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Is the way clear?

Following an hour-long meeting with members of her own Christian Democratic Union and the Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, Merkel was confirmed as parliamentary leader with 98.6 percent of the vote.


The clear show of support -- only three of the faction's 222 members voted against her -- smoothes the way for Merkel to begin searching for coalition partners to form the next government.


Berlin had been abuzz with speculation about what would happen to Merkel, who lead the Union parties to one of their worst federal election showings in postwar history on Sunday. Some observers questioned whether the 51-year-old party leader would have the necessary support to stake her claim as chancellor of Germany's next government.


In the aftermath of Sunday's election, both Merkel and incumbent Chancellor Gerhard Schröder have claimed Germany's top job. Schröder, whose Social Democratic Party on Sunday finished with 34.3 percent of the vote -- a much better showing than anticipated -- said the conservatives' poor showing makes him "feel validated" as chancellor.

Merkel's leadership reaffirmed

In a raucous talk show appearance on Sunday night, Schröder told Merkel as the cameras ran that her conservatives would never be able to form a so-called "grand coalition" with his SPD with her as chancellor. The SPD gave parliamentary leader Franz Müntefering their own show of support, voting to keep him with 95.6 percent of the vote on Tuesday.

But Merkel and the Union parties put on a confident display following the party meeting on Tuesday.

"Germany needs a stable government that's capable of acting, and under Angela Merkel's leadership," said CSU chief Edmund Stoiber. "And the Union fraction … has given her clear support."

"It was a good day for the Union parliamentary faction, which is once again ready to work," said Merkel.

Merkel, whose party won the most votes on Sunday, has until Oct. 18 to form a government. After initial skepticism, the number of voices in favor of a grand coalition under Merkel's leadership have increased in the Union parties. Conversely, fewer seem to favor a so-called "Jamaica" coalition with the free-market liberal Free Democrats and the Green Party.

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