Angela Merkel formally re-elected chancellorTuesday 17 December 2013 22.17
Angela Merkel has been elected to a third term as chancellor in a vote in the German lower house of parliament.
The vote paves the way for her new government to formally take power after months of coalition talks.
Her right-left government, which includes the rival Social Democrats, faces a host of challenges.
These included seeing through Ms Merkel's costly switch from nuclear to renewable energy and bedding down European reforms aimed at shielding the EU from future crises.
She will address parliament on EU issues tomorrow morning, before heading to Paris for talks with French President Francois Hollande.
Ms Merkel will then attend an EU summit in Brussels at which leaders are under pressure to clinch a deal on the union's ambitious "banking union" project.
Asked later in a television interview what her new term would mean for struggling euro states such as Greece, Portugal and Spain, Ms Merkel stuck to the hard line she has become known for in recent years.
"Those who know me know that I want improvements in competitiveness, I want solid finances and above all a situation where the euro is stable, in other words investors in the currency have confidence that they will get their money back one day," she told public station ARD.
"Without growth this won't work. But growth can't mean simply more public spending."
Ms Merkel joins fellow conservatives Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl as the only post-war chancellors to have won three terms.
Her conservatives scored their best result in more than two decades in the election on 22 September, but were forced into lengthy coalition talks with the rival Social Democrats (SPD), whose members only approved the deal at the weekend.
The vote in the Bundestag was a formality as the ruling parties hold around four-fifths of the seats. A total of 462 politicians backed Ms Merkel for chancellor, with 150 voting against and nine abstaining.
Later, members of her cabinet, six of whom are Social Democrats were sworn in.
The biggest surprise in Ms Merkel's cabinet was her choice of conservative Ursula von der Leyen as defence minister, which has fuelled speculation she could eventually succeed the chancellor.
President Joachim Gauck urged the government to act responsibly with its overwhelming parliamentary majority and said Germany should continue to build a "union of Europeans" that stood for peace and freedom.
In the new year, Ms Merkel's focus is expected to shift to domestic issues.
One priority for the "grand coalition" will be a reform of Germany's complex renewable energy law, blamed for soaring electricity costs.
The government aims to have an agreement in place by Easter.
By the summer, reforms of the pension system - more generous payouts for mothers and exceptions to the 67-year retirement age - must be pushed through, and progress made on introducing a minimum wage of €8.50 per hour.