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BACKGROUND The new German cabinet

Europe
14.03.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Berlin (dpa) - The new German cabinet of six Social Democratic (SPD), five Christian Democrat (CDU) and three Christian Social Union (CSU) ministers - as well as the chancellor herself and her chief of staff - is as follows:

CHANCELLOR (CDU): Angela Merkel, 63, in office since 2005, secures her fourth term in office after arduous negotiations to form a new government that lasted nearly six months. She has pledged to see out her full term.

CHANCELLERY CHIEF OF STAFF (CDU): Helge Braun, 45, is a close ally of Merkel. Braun, a medical doctor, is soft-spoken but has a reputation as a crisis manager. In particular, he coordinated the handling of the 2015-16 refugee crisis for Merkel.

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VICE CHANCELLOR AND FINANCE MINISTER (SPD): Hamburg Mayor Olaf Scholz, 59, is to take these key positions. Scholz is seen as a talented negotiator and also enjoys good relations with Andrea Nahles, the party left-winger expected to take over the SPD leadership, while staying out of the cabinet herself. A key question facing Scholz is how he will position himself vis-a-vis Merkel on Europe.

FOREIGN OFFICE (SPD): Current Justice Minister Heiko Maas, 51, is to take over this post from Sigmar Gabriel following an unseemly post-election wrangle with former SPD leader Martin Schulz.

JUSTICE (SPD): Outgoing Family Minister Katarina Barley, 49, only in post since June 2017 after her predecessor Manuela Schwesig took on the role of premier of the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, has worked as a lawyer and judge. She is a former secretary general of her party.

DEFENCE (CDU): Although controversial with both the troops and within her party, Ursula von der Leyen, 59, continues as Germany‘s first woman in the post she has held since 2013. Repeated equipment scandals have hit her reputation, but reappointment is seen as boosting her chances of succeeding Merkel, 63.

INTERIOR, HOME, CONSTRUCTION (CSU): Horst Seehofer, 68, leader of the CDU‘s Bavarian sister-party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), takes on this appointment, which is an expansion of the former Interior Ministry. Seehofer has in the past been extremely critical of Merkel‘s policy on migration and refugees and is now in a position to assert his will.

LABOUR AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS (SPD): Hubertus Heil, 45, a member of the Bundestag from the northern German state of Lower Saxony, takes on this post with its large budget. Pensions and expenditures on labour policies make this a big spending department with a budget of 130 billion euros (160 billion dollars) a year.

ECONOMY AND ENERGY (CDU): Peter Altmaier, 59, previously head of the chancellor‘s office, is set to take on this post, overseeing the switch from traditional energy sources to renewables.

ENVIRONMENT (SPD): Svenja Schulze, 49, the former science and research minister of the state of North Rhine Westphalia, represents Germany‘s most populous state in the new cabinet. She is described as having the common touch with easy access to "ordinary people" in the state with its strong working class element.

FAMILY (SPD): The popular mayor of the Berlin district of Neukoelln, Franziska Giffey, 39, was chosen from the states that made up the former communist East Germany and will be the second voice from the east in the cabinet after the chancellor.

HEALTH (CDU): Jens Spahn, 37, one of Merkel‘s strongest critics within her own party, has been picked for this post. Spahn‘s energies will initially be taken up with nursing care, a big issue in an ageing population. He is also likely to make his voice heard on key issues like migration as the battle to decide Merkel‘s successor heats up.

EDUCATION AND RESEARCH (CDU): Merkel managed to pull a surprise out of her hat when she named the relatively unknown lawmaker Anja Karliczek, 46, for this role. Karliczek was a hotel manager before entering the Bundestag in 2013.

TRANSPORT AND DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURE (CSU): Andreas Scheuer, 43, former CSU secretary general, takes on a role that should be familiar to him - from 2009 to 2013 he was a parliamentary state secretary in this ministry.

DEVELOPMENT (CSU): Gerd Mueller, 62, who has been in the Bundestag since 1994 maintains this ministry. His main challenge will be to combat the reasons why people flee as refugees to Germany, including famine and climate change.

FOOD AND AGRICULTURE (CDU): The party‘s deputy leader, Julia Kloeckner, 45, takes on this ministry and is seen as a beacon of hope for the party‘s future. She knows the portfolio as she worked in the ministry as a parliamentary secretary of state from 2009 to 2011.

 

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