German Parliament meets to elect Merkel for 4th term

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BERLIN – Germany’s Parliament is meeting to elect Angela Merkel for a fourth term as chancellor, ending nearly six months of political drift in Europe’s biggest economy.

Merkel needs the support of a majority of all lawmakers to be re-elected on Wednesday, meaning that she has to win at least 355 votes. The coalition of her conservative Christian Democratic Union, its Bavaria-only sister party, the Christian Social Union and the center-left Social Democrats has 399 seats.

The same parties have governed for the past four years but Wednesday’s parliamentary vote comes 171 days – nearly double the previous record – after September’s election, in which they all lost significant ground. The Social Democrats initially planned to go into opposition.

Merkel will head a much-changed new Cabinet.