German Press: Merkel′s Historic Moment | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 11.10.2005
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German Press: Merkel's Historic Moment

German newspapers called Angela Merkel's announcement that she will be the country's next chancellor an historic moment, but said she faced a tough time leading a left-right coalition.


The fight for the chancellory may be over but the tough talks continue

"It is a turning point, a truly historic moment because of Merkel's background, because of her trajectory which is as unusual as the fact that the country will have a female chancellor," said the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel on Tuesday.

The paper said many had underestimated Merkel, who entered politics only 15 years ago after growing up in former East Germany, and outgoing Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had made the same mistake. Schröder sought to claim a third term in office after his Social Democrats narrowly lost September elections to Merkel's Christian Union alliance, but bowed out after securing his party eight ministries in a coalition with the conservatives.

But Der Tagesspiegel also warned that it was not clear what she could hope to achieve as chancellor at the head of the potentially fractious grand coalition. "What she will do with her new power, what she wants to do with it, is even more of a mystery today than it was before the elections."

Doomed to success?

The Financial Times Deutschland in its Tuesday edition said the unlikely political bedfellows were "doomed to succeed" for the sake of the country, which has watched its former economic glory fade amid rampant unemployment.

"Their policy mixture, which will now have to be decided, will need a clear, unifying signature at the bottom of the page -- a clear message that reflects what it plans to do and what the people expect." It said that if the coalition failed to lift the German economy out of its paralysis, the country was heading for a lingering crisis that will weaken both coalition partners.

Die Welt daily said the fraught election had sent messages to Germany's politicians. The clearest one was that they cannot afford the luxury of dealing in ideology, but must act to resolve Germany's very real problems.

Great expectations

The Süddeutsche Zeitung warned that the biggest threat to the grand coalition of conservatives and Social Democrats is the great expectations they are expected to fulfill. "It's expected that this coalition will achieve what no political power has yet achieved. 'Who if not she (Merkel)?' everyone is saying."

But "what if it's not her?" the paper asked. The Social Democrats may have counted on Merkel being a weak chancellor who would make it easier for them during the next elections. But their calculation is wrong, the daily commented. If the grand coalition isn't successful, the SPD will be held accountable too.

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