German Chancellor urges for younger ministers in reformed government

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. Credit Reuters  Francois Lenoir

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. Credit Reuters Francois Lenoir

Merkel also described leaving the finance minister post to the SPD as a "painful" but "acceptable" price paid by her CDU party to form a coalition government.

Nahles, a combative, plain-talking former labor minister under Merkel, carries weight in the party base and can hope to shore up support among blue-collar members for another stint in government.

German Foreign Ministry spokesman Steffen Zeibert said in a statement on Monday that the meeting would discuss relations between the two countries and address worldwide issues.

A German official said on Tuesday the country's new government would not change its Brexit stance after Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats reached a coalition deal last week.

"She speaks the language of the party base and is therefore the right person to pitch the grand coalition", said Carsten Nickel, a Brussels-based analyst at Teneo Intelligence. Protocol would have dictated that a deputy leader step in as interim chairman.

"The SPD needs an organizational, programmatic and personnel renewal, and I wanted to facilitate that", Schulz told reporters in Berlin in announcing his retreat.

Scholz and Nahles thanked Schulz for his leadership of the party. In a TV interview on Sunday evening Angela Merkel vowed to stay on as chancellor for the full four-year term and defended herself against criticism for conceding the influential finance ministry to the Social Democrats.

Handing over the finance ministry - long the domain of Merkel lieutenant and fiscal hawk Wolfgang Schaeuble - "was one concession too many", fumed lawmaker Wolfgang Bosbach, reflecting a widely held view in the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

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