SINDELFINGEN, Germany (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, a key figure in Berlin’s handling of the euro zone crisis and Greece’s bailout programs, won a ringing endorsement from his conservative party on Saturday to stand in September’s federal election.
With 95 percent support, 74-year-old Schaeuble secured first place on the conservative Christian Democrats’ (CDU) list of candidates in the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg for the federal election to be held on Sept. 24.
Germany has a mixed-member proportional voting system under which voters cast two ballots: one directly for a candidate in his or her constituency and the second for a party. Seats from the second vote are allocated from the parties’ lists.
Schaeuble, a passionate pro-European, told CDU party members it was up to Germany to hold together the European Union, which has come under pressure from the migrant crisis, Brexit and other challenges.
He also stressed the special role of Chancellor Angela Merkel, the CDU leader, in preserving the EU: “The whole world expects that Angela Merkel can do this job, because nobody else in Germany and Europe can fulfill the role.”
On Friday, Schaeuble criticized Germany’s foreign minister - who is from the junior coalition partner, the Social Democrats - for saying more money should be given to Greece and the EU. Differences between the parties of the ruling coalition are becoming more visible six months before the election.
Schaeuble, who has come to personify the austerity Berlin has demanded in return for aid for Athens, said the suggestion by Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel that Greece could be given more aid “goes in the wrong direction completely”.
Saying Germany must give more money to the EU would not solve the problem and would give countries the wrong incentive, Schaeuble said. He added that the problem in Europe, as in Greece too, was not money but rather how to use it correctly.
The Social Democrats have enjoyed a revival under their new leader, Martin Schulz, and threaten Merkel’s bid to win a fourth term in September.
Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Gareth Jones