Angela Merkel scrapes back position in parliament with nine-vote majority

Merkel says she will visit Macron to discuss EU reform

Merkel says she will visit Macron to discuss EU reform

Chancellor Angela Merkel and her new coalition government have been backed by the Bundestag nearly six months after all parties failed to secure a majority in the elections.

Merkel, 63, has long dismissed the notion that she should be regarded as the "leader of the free world" following the election of Trump, who is unpopular in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

She will now begin a historic fourth term as Chancellor.

Despite that, Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Merkel on her re-election in a telegram.

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"You have all of my best wishes for the arduous path ahead", Bundestag President Wolfgang Schaeuble told Merkel after administering the oath of office.

Lawmakers voted by 364 to 315, with nine abstentions on Wednesday, in favour of re-electing Merkel, a humbling start as the coalition of her conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) has 399 votes in the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

Merkel's victory marks the final stepping stone on the path to Germany's new government - a renewal of the so-called grand coalition ("GroKo") between the Chancellor's CDU/Christian Social Union alliance and the SPD.

For the first time, Merkel's husband Joachim Sauer was present for the vote, as was her mother, Herlind Kasner.

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However, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier underlined expectations that Germany should serve as an example as he formally appointed her government.

She said that her new government would focus on "the integration of refugees, but also on the state's ability to act when people have not been granted right of residence". "It shows that the grand coalition is actually going to be a small coalition". At that point, either member of the alliance can quit the coalition if it is felt their party's reforms are not being implemented.

Merkel's incoming coalition has broadly welcomed Macron's bold reform plans, meant to reinvigorate the bloc and counter extremists and populists who have made major gains in Western democracies.

And after six months French president Emmanuel Macron signalled on Wednesday that he is exhausted of waiting for Berlin to respond to his European Union reform proposals.

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