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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 October 2005, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
German parliament chooses speaker
Chancellor-in-waiting Angela Merkel votes for the new speaker
The chairmanship of the parliament has changed party hands
The new German parliament has begun meeting for the first time since elections in September, which have not yet produced a new government.

By law, legislators had to meet within 30 days of the vote, but the two biggest groups are still in talks on forming a coalition.

They elected Norbert Lammert, from the Christian Democrats (CDU), as speaker.

Talks between the CDU, its CSU sister party and the leftist Social Democrats (SPD) now focus on common policy.

Mr Lammert, 56, was elected by a large majority - 564 votes out of 607.

An MP for the CDU for 25 years, he succeeds SPD member Wolfgang Thierse.

Long negotiations

It is thought the coalition negotiations could continue into November.

1. Christian Democrats/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU): 226
2. Social Democrats (SPD): 222
3. Free Democrats (FDP): 61
4. Left Party: 54
5. Greens: 51

Chancellor-designate Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and their CSU allies, which together emerged just four seats ahead of the SPD in September's election, have eight posts in the new cabinet.

This is the same number as the SPD, who struck a hard bargain with the CDU in return for allowing Mrs Merkel the chancellery.

The chosen ministers can only take up their posts once the coalition talks are successfully concluded.

Ms Merkel is calling for flexibility in the negotiations while saying that cutting unemployment and Germany's huge budget deficit will be her priorities.

However, the SPD has said it will resist any dramatic reform of the country's labour markets.

The two parties have already held three rounds of exploratory talks.

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