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Merkel under attack from CDU for 'grand coalition' concessions

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German Chancellor and leader of German Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Angela Merkel reacts during a joint press conference at the headquaters of CDU in Berlin, capital of Germany, on Feb. 7, 2018. Three German parties reached an agreement on a "grand coalition" after tough negotiations, local media reported Wednesday morning.(Xinhua/Shan Yuqi)


German Chancellor and Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader Angela Merkel heard harsh criticism from her party on Friday for the compromises underpinning a final coalition agreement with the Christian Social Union (CSU) and German Social Democrats (SPD).

Paul Ziemiak, leader of the CDU youth organization, publicly demanded a sign of renewal in response to the outcome of talks.

"We simply demand the inclusion of younger individuals, young politicians, in the federal government and party leadership," Ziemiak told the radio station "Deutschlandfunk".

He added that he expected clarity from Merkel on personnel changes in the party and governing cabinet by the date of the CDU party conference on Feb. 26.

Former CDU parliamentary faction leader Friedrich Merz told the newspaper "BILD" Friday that his party would "give itself up" if it "accepted such a humiliation."

Speaking to "BILD" as well, the CDU foreign policy speaker Norbert Roettgen complained that the party had been "structurally weakened" and would consequently "lose influence".

Similarly, CDU parliamentarian Christian von Stetten described the distribution of ministries as a "political mistake." His party colleague Michael von Abercron went even further in asserting that Merkel's authority had been "shattered in the party, as well as in the government".

Ziemiak urged his party to start thinking seriously about an eventual successor to Merkel. Due to the loss of the finance ministry to the SPD, in particular, tensions were "brewing everywhere" in the CDU and would only become worse without internal renewal.

Despite only wining 20.5 percent of the vote in national elections in September, the SPD has negotiated the right to nominate six ministerial posts in a re-launch of the "grand coalition", including prestigious departments such as Finance, Foreign Affairs and Labor/Social Policy.

The CDU, which won the largest share of votes with 26.8 percent, is only set to receive five ministries, aside from the chancellorship itself. Notably, Merkel's party also ceded the influential interior ministry to its conservative sister party CSU (6.2 percent voter share, three ministers in total).

However, Ziemiak emphasized that not all ministerial posts in the next government were already officially-designated. "We need more young faces in the government, if we want to speak about the future of Germany," he argued.

The CDU leadership will vote on the coalition agreement at the specially-convened conference, although their approval is widely seen as a mere formality.

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