Archive for Wednesday, November 23, 2005

First female chancellor faces challenges

November 23, 2005

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— Conservative Angela Merkel took power Tuesday as Germany's first female chancellor and its first leader to grow up behind the Iron Curtain, saying the public was eager for the government to get to work after six months of political turmoil.

But the 51-year-old former scientist will have a tough job turning around Europe's biggest economy after years of stagnation. In a potential sign of trouble ahead, more than 50 members of Merkel's unwieldy 448-lawmaker coalition voted against her Tuesday. Still, the strength of her party's alliance with the left-wing Social Democrats allowed her to win easily in the lower house.

"Expectations are very high among people in this country that problems get solved, policies made and decisions taken," Merkel said as she ceremonially took over the imposing chancellery across from the Reichstag parliament building.

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