Berlin (AFP) – Germany’s hardline finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is to leave his post to become speaker of the new parliament following watershed elections at the weekend, party sources said Wednesday.
The chief whip of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and his counterpart with their Bavarian sister party CSU, Alexander Dobrindt, are to formally nominate him later Wednesday, the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity told AFP.
The sources said Schaeuble, 75, was ready to accept the change to leave the ministry, where he has been a staunch backer of austerity for stricken eurozone member states.
His unbending stance on Greece cast him as a villain in the struggle to save Athens from crashing out of the euro and many debt-mired countries in southern Europe will cheer his departure.
The general election on Sunday saw Merkel win a fourth term as German chancellor but without a ruling majority.
Her previous junior partners, the Social Democrats, said they would move to the opposition following a dismal result in the poll.
Merkel must now try to form a government likely to include the Free Democratic Party, which has already staked a claim to the powerful finance minister job.
The election also saw the hard-right nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party win nearly 13 percent of the vote in what the top-selling Bild daily called a “political earthquake” for the country.
Bild said Merkel personally asked Schaeuble to become parliamentary speaker, arguing that the “job will have greater importance than usual given the arrival of the AfD in the Bundestag” lower house.
Schaeuble, who has served in the Bundestag for 45 years, is a giant of the German political scene.
He will replace the highly respected Norbert Lammert, who retired at the end of the last parliamentary term this month.