Merkel breaks pelvis as new German coalition bickers

Updated: 2014-01-07 09:07


Merkel breaks pelvis as new German coalition bickers

File combination of photos showing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on crutches, taking her seat at the opening of the exhibition "Women Write Soccer History" at the Chancellery in Berlin, April 5, 2011.[Photo/Agencies]

BERLIN - 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, is using crutches after her accident in Switzerland over the Christmas holidays and will have to take it easy for the next three weeks, her spokesman said on Monday.

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 France.

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 added.

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 Union.

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