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Schäuble set to step down as German finance minister

Wolfgang Schauble

Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s long-standing pro-austerity finance minister, is set to leave the post.

He has been finance minister for the past eight years, gaining a reputation for toughness in eurozone negotiations with Greece.

Mr Schäuble, 75, will be nominated for the post of speaker of Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag.

Following this week’s election, the Free Democrats have indicated they would like to run the finance ministry.

The FDP is a potential coalition partner for Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, which remained the largest party in parliament following Sunday’s vote, but is not in a position to govern alone.

The deputy leader of the FDP, Wolfgang Kubicki, welcomed the plan to nominate Mr Schäuble for Bundestag president as a sign of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s openness to a three-way coalition with the FDP and the Greens.

But he suggested the FDP would want to make some changes to German economic policy: “In case the FDP becomes part of the government, a new fiscal policy will be of central importance.”

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Mr Kubicki and FDP party leader Christian Lindner have both been mentioned as possible candidates for the finance ministry post.

During the eurozone crisis, Mr Schäuble won respect, especially at home in Germany, for refusing to ease the austerity imposed on southern European countries in exchange for bailout funds. But in Greece his name became a byword for intransigence and harshness.

Mr Schäuble is the country’s longest standing member of parliament having first been elected in 1972.