Germany took a first decisive step on Wednesday towards forming a new government when its veteran finance minister, conservative Wolfgang Schaeuble, agreed to become president of the parliament, clearing the way for another party to take his job. David Pollard reports.
Three quarters of a century on the planet - Wolfgang Schaeuble celebrates his birthday earlier this month. The last eight years as the finance minister of Europe's leading economy. Though those may now be coming to an end. SOUNDBITE (Germany) MICHAEL GROSSE-BROEMER, SENIOR CDU POLITICIAN, SAYING: "The head of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group and the head of the regional group of the CSU in Berlin will nominate Dr. Wolfgang Schaeuble for the position of president of the Bundestag during our next meeting of the parliamentary group." Schauble's move to Bundestag president would mean a new finance minister ... For a German government that - after last weekend's election - is yet to be formed. Possible coalition partners, the Free Democrats, have reportedly demanded the role for themselves. Markets braced for negotiations that could go on for weeks, even months .... (SOUNDBITE) (English) CMC MARKETS ANALYST, MICHAEL HEWSON, SAYING: "It's one of the reasons why the euro started to slip back ... It's going to be very very difficult for Angela Merkel to cobble together a new coalition government and that has raised the prospect that we actually could see another election within the next six months." A veteran politician who entered parliament in 1972, Schaeuble is loved by fans of his tight control of public finances at home. If loathed in Greece and elsewhere in southern Europe - for his insistence on tough austerity during the eurozone crisis. One thing many agree on - his departure could add to Germany's post-election blues. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CMC MARKETS ANALYST, MICHAEL HEWSON, SAYING: "The longer this drags on I think it's much more difficult to make the case that ultimately the recent growth that we've seen in the German economy won't start to plateau and taper off." But after an assassination attempt in 1990 that left him paralysed, Schaeuble is more than just a political survivor. Few would expect him to give up his influence just yet.