• Germany's news in English

Merkel rival gets 'super ministry' in new cabinet

AFP · 15 Dec 2013, 16:35

Published: 15 Dec 2013 16:35 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
Sigmar Gabriel, the leader of Germany's Social Democrats, junior partners in Merkel's power-sharing government, told reporters he would become her vice-chancellor and head up what the media labelled a "super ministry" responsible for the economy and energy policy.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier will return as foreign minister, a job he held under Merkel during her first term 2005-9 when she also led a left-right "grand coalition".
The Social Democrats (SPD) kept a pledge to fill half of the cabinet seats allotted to them with women.
Left-wing firebrand Andrea Nahles, the SPD's current general secretary, is to become labour minister, sharing responsibility for rolling out Germany's first national minimum wage -- a condition the SPD set for the alliance with Merkel.
Party vice-chairwoman Manuela Schwesig is to take charge of family affairs, and SPD treasurer Barbara Hendricks is headed for the environment ministry.
Heiko Maas, economy minister in the western state of Saarland, will head up the justice and consumer affairs ministry.
Gabriel said another SPD deputy leader, Aydan Ozoguz, would become state minister for immigration, refugees and integration - the highest office ever held in Germany by a woman from the country's three-million strong Turkish community.
Poisoned chalice
The "super ministry" Gabriel, a former environment minister, will lead is to manage Germany's transition away from nuclear power and toward greater use of renewables.
The brief stems from Merkel's abrupt decision in the wake of Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011 to shut down all of Germany's reactors by 2022.
The radical policy shift has seen energy costs rise for consumers and driven up greenhouse gas emissions as the country turns to coal to fill a power supply gap.
Given the complexity of the task, many analysts saw the appointment as a poisoned chalice handed by Merkel to Gabriel, her likely challenger in 2017 should she stand for a fourth term.
"We have hard work ahead of us," Gabriel acknowledged but added: "This cabinet make-up fulfils the wishes of the SPD."
Analyst Claire Demesmay of the German Council on Foreign Relations, a Berlin-based think tank, said Merkel and her returning foreign minister Steinmeier had a good working relationship despite different takes on complex countries such as Russia.
"He has always advocated a more pragmatic approach on Russia policy by calling for dialogue while Angela Merkel has taken a harder line," she told AFP. "You can expect perhaps different priorities but I don't expect a real clash."
Merkel was to hold a news conference later Sunday to announce her conservatives' picks for the cabinet.
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, the main architect of Germany's tough-love response to the eurozone crisis, is to remain in his post.
Story continues below…
But a surprise appointment widely reported Sunday was mother-of-seven Ursula von der Leyen as Germany's first female defence minister.
Merkel is to be formally elected by the Bundestag lower house of parliament on Tuesday, when the new cabinet will also be sworn in.
Germany, Europe's top economy has endured nearly three months of political limbo since a September general election saw a triumph for Merkel and her Christian Union bloc but left them short of a ruling majority.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Obama to visit Berlin in last presidential trip to Germany
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Berlin trip in 2013. Photo: DPA.

The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama will be paying one last unexpected visit to the German capital - his last before he leaves office.

Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

The Local List
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Photo: DPA

So you've mastered German, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

Iconic German church being eroded away by human urine
Ulm Minster towering over the rest Ulm surrounding the Danube. Photo: Pixabay

It will now cost you €100 to spend a penny. That’s if you get caught choosing to pee against the world-famous Ulm Minster.

German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Four Ku Klux Klan groups active in Germany, says govt
An American member of the KKK at a gathering in Georgia. Photo: EPA.

The German government estimates that there are four Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups currently active in the country, according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Tuesday.

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd