Merkel has faith in her health and political protégée
Germany's Angela Merkel threw her weight behind her embattled new defence minister and heir-apparent yesterday, while insisting she herself was fit to carry on serving as chancellor through to the end of her term in 2021.
Ms Merkel, who turned 65 on Wednesday and has been in office since 2005, has suffered several bouts of shaking at public ceremonies in recent weeks that have stirred speculation about her health.
Ms Merkel said she understood the questions about her health, but told her annual summer news conference: "As a person, I have a strong personal interest in my health and, as I said, 2021 is the conclusion of my political work.
"But then I hope there will be another life [after politics]."
Asked how she was feeling, Ms Merkel added: "Good."
The chancellor is trying to stage-manage a slow-motion exit and in December gave up the chair of her Christian Democrats to protégée Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer took over as defence minister on Wednesday, entering the cabinet in a move likely to make or break her chances of succeeding her mentor as Germany's leader by 2021.
Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer, known as AKK, was appointed with Ms Merkel's blessing but immediately ran into trouble after giving a lacklustre television interview.
"BLA BLA BLAKK," ran a front-page headline in yesterday's edition of the mass-circulation daily 'Bild'.
"I am convinced she will do very well," said Ms Merkel.