Merkel Ally Says Schaeuble Hungry to Stay On as Finance Minister

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is fit and “hungry” to remain in his post for another four years, said the parliamentary caucus leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic bloc.

Volker Kauder said in an interview in Berlin today that he talked in the past few days with Schaeuble, a wheelchair user who turns 71 four days before the Sept. 22 vote, and concluded he’s willing and able to stay on as finance minister. Kauder also signaled there were no serious rivals for the job.

“Wolfgang Schaeuble is in good health and hungry for action,” Kauder said. “As I know him, he wants to continue.” Asked to speculate on a party successor to Schaeuble, Kauder said, “I don’t even want to think about it.”

Kauder’s comments are the clearest indication yet that the minister who has been at the vanguard of Merkel’s austerity-first agenda throughout the debt crisis that erupted in 2009 at the beginning of her second term will return to the Finance Ministry if she wins a third.

Schaeuble, who has served in Germany’s lower house, or Bundestag, since 1972 and played a central role in German reunification 23 years ago, was interior minister from 2005 before Merkel appointed him to the finance portfolio in 2009. He said in an interview last September that he was prepared to continue in office if he was re-elected.

The German finance minister has been partially paralyzed since being shot by a deranged assailant at a campaign rally in 1990. His health became an issue for Merkel in 2010, when he was forced to miss several crisis meetings after being repeatedly hospitalized.

Schaeuble is due to join the campaign trail on Aug. 19, when he holds a rally in Guetersloh in North-Rhine Westphalia state, the first of about 37 appearances in the five weeks before the ballot. The following day, Aug. 20, Schaeuble will hold four separate rallies in Schleswig-Holstein and in Hamburg.