Angela Merkel was facing anger from within her own party on Thursday over the terms of a new coalition agreement.
Leading voices in the Christian Democrat party (CDU) accused Mrs Merkel of paying too high a price for to secure the support of other parties to keep her in office.
There is growing discontent in the party at the number of key ministries Mrs Merkel has handed over to her coalition partners, and particularly at the loss of the powerful finance ministry to the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD).
“There is very little enthusiasm in the party over the loss of ministries,” Daniel Günther, the regional prime minister of Schleswig-Holstein said. “The Social Democrats have done very well for themselves.”
The loss of ministries “cut to the heart of the CDU”, Carsten Linnemann, the chairman of the party’s small businesses association said.
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“For our party, February 7, 2018, could turn out to be a turning point, the beginning of the end of the CDU as a mainstream party.”
“Under normal circumstances, the CDU could never agreed to this deal,” Werner Bahlsen, the president of the CDU economic council said.
Olav Guttig, a relatively unknown CDU MP appeared to sum up the feelings of many in the party when he tweeted: “Phew, at least we’ve still got the chancellery”.
The rumblings in the party do not amount to a rebellion against Mrs Merkel yet. But they will be a worrying sign for her, especially as the loss of ministries means she has fewer portfolios to offer party rivals in order to keep them loyal.
“The allocation of ministries was not a negotiating success,” Philipp Bürkle, the head of the party youth wing said. “We wanted to get more younger heads like Jens Spahn into the government. We obviously did not succeed.”
It appears there is no place at the cabinet table for Mr Spahn, the current junior finance minister who has come closer than anyone in the party to defying Mrs Merkel, and is positioning himself as the conservative wing’s candidate to succeed her.
Nor is there a place for Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the regional prime minister of Saarland who is known as “mini-Merkel” and rumoured to be Mrs Merkel’s preferred successor.
Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer did not mince her words over the loss of the finance ministry. “It hurts us. Undoubtedly,” she said.
Meanwhile the focus shifted yesterday to the SPD, whose members have to approve the coalition deal in a vote before it can go ahead.
Martin Schulz, the outgoing party leader and Andrea Nahles, his chosen successor, were gearing up yesterday (THU) for a nationwide tour to persuade the more than 460,000 members to vote for the deal.
But they will face off against Kevin Kühnert, the leader of the SPD youth wing, the Jusos, who has already announced his own rival tour to convince members to vote No.
A Momentum-style campaign by the Jusos to recruit new members to vote No managed to sign up more than 24,000 before a deadline on Tuesday.
A poll released yesterday (THU) found 60 per cent of SPD members said they would vote in favour of the coalition deal. Voting begins on February 20, and the results will be announced on March 4.
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