German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been elected by parliament to her fourth term in office.
Lawmakers voted by 364 to 315, with nine abstentions, in favor of re-electing Merkel, a humbling start as the coalition of her conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) has 399 votes in the Bundestag lower house of parliament.
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However it is thought that Merkel's fourth term is likely to be her toughest, given that her party's coalition with the Social Democrats and Christian Social Union is widely seen as fragile.
Ms Merkel will head a much-changed new cabinet, with the governing parties - which are traditional rivals - keen to send signals of renewal. There are new faces in the most important posts, the finance, foreign, economy and interior ministries.
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Wednesday's parliamentary vote came 171 days after the election, almost double the previous record.
Despite a hard start - former SPD head Martin Schulz first refused to enter a grand coalition, then was forced to walk back on his position, prompting his resignation - the parties are now in a position to "work together constructively" and put an end to Germany's "time of uncertainty", Scholz told reporters at a joint press conference alongside Merkel and CSU leader Horst Seehofer. Two months after Germany's federal election a year ago, five weeks of exploratory talks collapsed, casting uncertainty over Chancellor Angela Merkel's future in office. At least 35 coalition lawmakers didn't support her Wednesday, though that was in line with results at the beginning of her two previous "grand coalitions" of Germany's biggest parties. "So I think there is some reason for optimism".
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