Tue Oct 18th, 2005 at 06:20:38 AM EST
All members of Germany's new Grand Coalition government under chancellor Merkel were fixed. Last week, the Social Democrat ministers were known, now the conservatives too.
I list them below the fold, with the new CDU/CSU additions in front, and some personal opinion on them. Sun Tzu's golden rule of ruling would be to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. But it seems to me Merkel plays it risky - short analysis added in the comments.
You can also read another diary I wrote on some statistics (ratio of women, Turks etc) of the new German members of parliament - there too is some additional data in the comments.
CDU MINISTERS (Christian Democrats, all Germany minus Bavaria)
Interior minister: Wolfgang Schäuble, the man in the wheelchair (was attacked by a mentally ill person). He is a much-respected senior figure, he was Helmut Kohl's 'consigliere'. The two fell out with each other when Kohl's campaign finance scandal broke some six years ago, and they had different versions of the truth - but Merkel, who used the hour to play the unsullied soul of the party and gained leadership then, tossed Schäuble aside too. The relationship improved somewhat only recently, as Schäuble dislikes Merkel's opponents more. If he supports her, he'll be Merkel's most important gun against party rivals to the right.
Head of the chanchellor's office (a minister-level post, very powerful but in the background - also see the SPD foreign minister below): Thomas de Maizière. A young East German from the second line, was interior minister of Saxony province, his cousin was East Germany's last (and first non-communist) PM.
Defense minister: Franz Josef Jung, again a younger guy from the second line, but one connected to Merkel's inner-party opponents: he was faction chief in Hessen province, whose PM is the awful Roland Koch. Jung is not someone to trust either: he survived a party finance scandal of his own too.
Education minister: Anette Schavan, from the conservative Southern province of Baden-Württemberg. So conservative that tough Schavan is a rather traditional Catholic, she lost the inner-party race for provincial PM-ship to a lower-ranked - man. However, she is one of Merkel's closest confidents - that could make her one of the most powerful ministers.
Family minister: Ursula von der Leyen, daughter of a former provincial PM. A doctor and a mother of seven, she is truly an embodiment of the ideal of non-Catholics in the CDU; but she is not even from the third line.
CSU MINISTERS (Christian Socialists, only Bavaria)
Economy minister: Edmund Stoiber, until now PM of Bavaria state. An insufferable right-populist, and a bore, whose attempts at appearing folkish to the Bavarian electorate have led to many gaffes and scandals. Having him in the government will allow Merkel to control him somewhat (instead of playing internal opposition, as he and his predecessor ocassionally did under Kohl; and he kind of did even against Merkel when both were in opposition). If control fails, the question is who gets the blame: he himself, Merkel (for weakness), or the CDU/CSU.
Consumer protection minister: Horst Seehofer, for years the conservatives' man for social, especially health policy. He was social undersecretary, then health minister under Kohl. Represents the more humane wing of the CDU/CSU, but also some traditional guild interests. He was publicly against Merkel's 'reform' plans in his field, so he'll be another strong internal opposition. Unlike Stoiber, he is respected widely.
SPD MINISTERS (old post from here)
Vice-Chancellor and Labor minister
: Franz Müntefering, outgoing fraction and party leader. He is an old party soldier, not too charismatic, with a rhetoric liked by the party traditionalists ("locusts"
speech), but in practice very loyal to Schröder. (The second image is Hartz IV generation fun
from satire magazine ZYN.)
Foreign minister: Frank-Walter Steinmeier, outgoing chief of the Chancellor's Office. Think of the a rough equivalent of Peter Mandelson in Britain (years ago) or Karl Rove in the USA: a strong man in the background, very loyal to Schröder (see image), expect the same from him minus populism and charisma.
Finance [treasury] minister: Peter Steinbrück, ousted PM of Northrhine-Westphalia province, his losing of the provincial elections earlier this year was what triggered the early elections at federal level. He is supposed to be a technocrat. I disliked very much his predecessor both as NRW PM and now finance minister, Wolfgang Clement - he was a big business and coal lobby man. That may or may not be true for Steinbrück, but he earned bad points with me for writing a common economic 'reform' proposal with the CDU's far-right, Hessen PM (and would-be-successor to Merkel) Roland Koch.
Justice minister: Brigitte Zypries, the SPD woman with the strongest post; she is the incumbent. As far as I could see, she is responsible for neither big errors, nor big positive reforms, she is fine but could work on her profile.
Development aid [foreign aid] minister: Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, photo above, she too is the incumbent. I like her, she is outspoken, and can think independently of Schröder, but was rather powerless.
Health minister: Ulla Schmidt, yet again an incumbent. She is not very popular, both among poor people for her 'reforms', and doctors for - yeah - her 'reforms' (doctors are upper middle class in Germany, and guard a lot of privileges that generally make services more expensive for consumers).
Transport minister: Wolfgang Tiefensee, major of Leipzig. One of the SPD's bright new stars from East Germany, from what I read he managed his city rather well, and didn't ignore public transport - he may well be an improvement upon the outgoing (Manfred Stolpe, also from East Germany).
Environment minister: Sigmar Gabriel, he is the ousted PM of Lower Saxony province, where he inherited the post from Schröder. He is a macho like Schröder, with a similar economic outlook paired with some populism (he likes to attend televised debates, the above photo was made in one). However, Lower Saxony became the province with the by far most installed wind power in his time, so maybe he won't destroy completely what he takes over from outgoing Green Party minister Jürgen Trittin.
I wonder if the other bright new SPD star from East Germany, Brandenburg province's PM Matthias Platzeck, is 'sheltered' for a later higher role (maybe even the next chancellor candidate?)