Tempers are fraying in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new cabinet before she gathers ministers on Tuesday for a two-day retreat aimed at team-building in the ruling coalition, which took power just last month. Simmering antipathy between the awkward partners boiled over on Saturday in a row over law enforcement, highlighting the challenge Merkel faces to forge a team spirit in the alliance of her conservatives and the left-leaning Social Democrats (SPD).
The row broke out after Health Minister Jens Spahn told the Neue Zuercher Zeitung earlier this week that in working-class areas in Essen, Duisburg or Berlin “there is the impression that the state is no longer willing or able to enforce the law.” Andrea Nahles, poised to take over as SPD leader this later month, said Spahn - a conservative - should focus on the health portfolio.
“Before Health Minister Spahn bad-mouths the home affairs situation in too-clever-by-half interviews ... he should take care of his own job,” she told the RND newspaper group, noting the conservatives have held the interior ministry for 13 years. Merkel took office last month as chancellor for a fourth, and likely final, term that may prove her most challenging yet as she leads the fragile coalition with her personal standing diminished following Germany’s 2015 refugee crisis.
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