BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s pro-austerity Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is ready to quit his job and become head of the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives said on Wednesday, following Sunday’s election.
Schaeuble is deeply respected at home for his tight control of public finances since taking on the job in 2009, but is loathed in Greece and elsewhere in southern Europe for his insistence on tough austerity steps during the eurozone crisis.
The pro-business, fiscally hawkish Free Democrats (FDP), a likely coalition partner for Merkel’s conservatives, has said it wants to run the finance ministry in any new government.
“We are pleased that Wolfgang Schaeuble has agreed to become a candidate for the position (of president of the Bundestag),” Volker Kauder, parliamentary leader of Merkel’s conservatives, said in a statement.
The centre-right CDU/CSU bloc will propose Schaeuble as their candidate for the Bundestag post at their next meeting on Oct. 17, Kauder added.
The current Bundestag president, CDU lawmaker Norbert Lammert, is not up for re-election. Schaeuble, 75, has been confined to a wheelchair since being shot at an election rally in 1990. He is the longest serving member of parliament.
(The story amends word in parenthesis in paragraph four to make clear he will be proposed for job of president of parliament.)
Additional reporting by Gernot Heller; Writing by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Gareth Jones