German parliament meets to elect Merkel for 4th term

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German parliament meets to elect Merkel for 4th term
From left, Olaf Scholz, acting chairman of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), German Chancellor and chairwomen of the German Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Angela Merkel, and the chairman of the German Christian Social Union (CSU), Horst Seehofer, pose with the coalition agreement during a signing ceremony in Berlin, Germany, Monday, March 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

BERLIN (AP) — 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.