BERLIN (Reuters) - A senior German conservative said on Monday that Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble would make an “ideal” president of parliament, raising the possibility of a change of roles for a man long associated with unflinching austerity in the euro zone.
Schaeuble has controlled Germany’s powerful finance ministry since 2009 but the outcome of Sunday’s federal elections has raised doubts over whether he can hold onto the job.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives remain the largest bloc in the lower house Bundestag and are expected to seek a coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and Greens. The FDP has signalled it would like the finance ministry.
“If Chancellor Angela Merkel and Schaeuble agree, he would make an ideal candidate for the post of Bundestag president,” Guenther Oettinger, the European Union’s budget commissioner, told the Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper.
Schaeuble, who has refused to discuss his future after the election, is a hate figure in Greece and other parts of southern Europe for his insistence on tax hikes and spending cuts at a time of deep economic recession in return for euro zone bailout loans.
But Schaeuble, 75, is widely respected in Germany as a responsible steward of the nation’s finances and has enjoyed Merkel’s strong support during the euro zone debt crisis that almost tore the single currency bloc apart.
The current president of the Bundestag, Norbert Lammert of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), is not up for reelection. Under separation of power rules the Bundestag president cannot simultaneously hold a ministerial post.
Reporting by Tom Koerkemeier; Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Gareth Jones