After bruised chances since half a year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday narrowly confirmed her fourth and most likely final term at the helm of Europe’s largest economy, Germany.

More than five months after Germany’s federal election last September, a new grand coalition government – comprising Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) – has finally been formed. German lawmakers finally voted on March 14 to re-elect Angela Merkel as Chancellor for a fourth, and likely final, term that may prove her most challenging yet as she takes charge of a fragile coalition with her personal standing diminished.

With 364 to 315 votes and 9 abstentions in support of Angela Merkel, she was re-elected with a humbling start as the coalition of her conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) has 399 votes in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament. After receiving votes, Merkel was formally appointed by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier before taking the oath of office yesterday. Merkel, wearing a white blazer, said “I accept the vote” and beamed happily as applause filled the Bundestag chamber, where her scientist husband Joachim Sauer and her 89-year-old mother Herlind Kasner were among the well-wishers.

For the veteran leader, the ceremony marked the end of a painful stretch of post-election paralysis, the deepest crisis of her 12-year career. But it will also most likely mean a final term for Merkel as the Chancellor on the helm of biggest European economy. The grand coalition, mockingly dubbed a “GroKo” in German, didn’t start as a “love marriage”, her designated vice chancellor and finance minister, the SPD’s Olaf Scholz, drily observed this week All coalition partners have nonetheless sought to allay fears that their marriage of convenience could break up mid-term, insisting they plan to jointly govern until 2021.

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