BERLIN / Reuters
We will argue, but we are ready to get on with governing Germany: that was Chancellor Angela Merkel’s take on her new cabinet after a “get to know you” retreat for ministers.
Leading ministers from Merkel’s conservative bloc and their Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners have been sniping at each other since taking office a month ago, when they renewed their loveless “grand coalition” — in power since 2013.
The two groups agreed to team up again only because they were desperate to avoid fresh elections after both had haemorrhaged support in last September’s federal vote.
Merkel tried to end the squabbling during the two-day session at Schloss Meseberg, her official country residence outside Berlin.
“We will have debates,” she told reporters, recognising the turbulent start to the government and accepting there will be rows. “We don’t all wake up in the morning with the same ideas.”
“But what I take away from this retreat is that the will to reach agreements is there,” she added after the meeting, which began on April 10.
Merkel began in March a fourth, and likely final, term that may prove her most difficult yet as she leads the coalition with her personal standing diminished following Germany’s 2015 refugee crisis.
With more than six months gone since the election, Merkel knows that voters expect her government to address their economic, social and security concerns quickly.