Angela Merkel has broken her pelvis in a skiing accident.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has broken her pelvis in
a cross-country skiing accident, forcing her to call off some
foreign visits and official appointments just when she needs to
bed down her fractious new coalition government.
Merkel, 59, was using crutches after her accident in
Switzerland over the Christmas holidays and would have to
take it easy for the next three weeks, her spokesman said.
The news about Merkel - who began her third term last month
after sealing the "grand coalition" with the centre-left
Social Democrats - came a week after German ex-Formula One
champion Michael Schumacher suffered a far more serious
downhill skiing accident and remains in critical condition in
Merkel's accident had occurred "at low speed" but what had at
first seemed to be heavy bruising turned out to be a partial
fracture, said spokesman Steffen Seibert. "The chancellor is
of course able to work and is in full communication," he
The conservative chancellor, a keen hiker who prefers
cross-country to downhill skiing, must lie down and work from
home where possible.
She has postponed a visit to Warsaw scheduled for Wednesday
and a meeting in Berlin with Luxembourg's new prime minister,
Xavier Bettel. But Seibert said she will lead her first
cabinet meeting of 2014 on Wednesday.
Her government has got off to a rocky start. The right and
left have clashed over how quickly to implement policies from
their coalition deal, including a minimum wage, a highway
toll and a data protection law.
Merkel's Bavarian allies also provoked a row by proposing
limits to welfare payments for immigrants from Romania and
Bulgaria, who from this year have full access to the job
markets and social services of the rest of the European
CRITICISM OF MERKEL
Merkel has also drawn criticism for the planned switch of her
recently departed chief of staff, Ronald Pofalla, to a
high-paying position as a political lobbyist for state-owned
railway operator Deutsche Bahn.
News of Pofalla's move, which has not yet been finalised,
came just two months after prosecutors opened an
investigation into another top Merkel aide, Eckart von
Klaeden, over his move to the top lobby job at German
Opposition parties and anti-lobby groups have denounced both
moves as evidence of a "revolving door" between politics and
business in Germany.
Seibert said on Monday that Pofalla had told Merkel in late
November, in the midst of coalition talks, that he might move
to Deutsche Bahn. Merkel had recommended to Pofalla that he
take a "cooling-off" period before moving into the new job,
said Seibert, who declined to comment on whether the
chancellor supports the move.
Alexander Kirchner, a union leader who sits on Deutsche
Bahn's supervisory board, criticised the silence. "I think
it's absurd that the government hasn't said anything," he
told Reuters. The rail operator has called a special meeting
on Jan. 30 where the Pofalla case is expected to be
With the Pofalla row continuing and cabinet colleagues from
Merkel's Christian Democrats, their Bavarian allies in the
Christian Social Union and the Social Democrats arguing on a
range of issues, Merkel can ill afford to be resting as her
doctors have recommended.
She will not attend the Davos World Economic Forum later this
month, Seibert said - not due to her accident, but because it
clashes with plans for a cabinet "retreat" on Jan. 22-23
outside Berlin. But it was unclear whether Merkel would
attend that crucial political meeting or will have to