I'll list all the ministers -- but, loosely, from most powerful to least.
:: :: :: :: ::
Chancellor: Angela Merkel (CDU)
The holder of this post is unchanged, of course. Currently said to be on the left wing of her party, both socially and on the economy, a position now made more difficult by the FDP's entry into government. However, ideology is not what defines her.
Merkel is the cold Machiavellian tactician, who applies former chancellor Helmut Kohl's paradigm of waiting longer than anyone else (letting others self-destroy), and who in public projects the perception of an Aunt of the Nation standing above petty party politics. (Get a glimpse of the real Merkel in the second video in PeWi's parallel diary.) But no more on Merkel -- better read the SPIEGEL op-ed The Black Widow Chancellor (from which I took the photo below).
Head of the chancellery: Ronald Pofalla (CDU)
The defining difference between a German chancellor and a standard prime minister is the chancellery: a de-facto government-in-a-government, a bureaucracy with sections mirroring all the ministries. The head of chancellery is a powerful post at minister level, but one with low public profile. (The outgoing foreign minister and SPD chancellor candidate, Franz-Walter Steinmeier, was former chancellor Gerhard Schröder's head of chancellery.)
The new grey eminence, Pofalla, was a loyal party soldier, making a career in the parliamentary faction and the federal party; but, he never had responsibility in an executive job. He is a trained lawyer, and a North German Christian conservative advocating crucifixes in the classroom. (Photo from Wikipedia)
Interior minister: Thomas de Maizière (CDU)
The East German descendant of French Huguenot refugees in Prussia (and cousin of Lothar de Maizière, the last PM of East Germany) is the first seat-shuffler, he was the previous head of chancellery. He is a loyal Merkel ally ever since Merkel promoted him from the Saxony regional government to the federal government. (Photo from Wikipedia)
Finance minister: Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU)
Kohl's onetime consigliere and desired successor, he is a powerful figure in the CDU by seniority, but not part of a bigger network. Schäuble was pushed out from the interior ministry, where he gained the nickname "Stasi 2.0" and EUrope-wide infame for a steadfast advocacy of new police state measures.
But, Schäuble, wheelchair-bound ever since a 1990 attack by a madman, did not start out as a security policy 'specialist': more a man for all seasons, with expertise in backroom diplomacy and public widening of the Overton Window. Still, finance? (Photos from Wikipedia)
Foreign minister: Guido Westerwelle (FDP)
The FDP held the foreign ministry for decades. Thus the FDP's big old man in the background, eighties foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, mobilised his connections to get the post for the FDP's current boss. Whether he is qualified, is another question. His election-day reminder to a BBC reporter that people speak German in Germany may have been true, but not a good start into the world of diplomacy. (And possibly motivated by his own difficulty with English, evidenced by the first video in PeWi's parallel diary.)
My personal impression of Westerwelle is that of a rather shallow yuppie who never achieved much on his own. First there were the rich parents. Then the FDP's onetime free-wheeling strongman from Northrhine-Westphalia, Jürgen Mölleman, who helped him into party leadership, practically as his figurehead. But then Mölleman went under politically and committed a spectacular suicide1, after which Westerwelle remained party head for lack of a better (or willing) choice. Now his party won big thanks to dissatisfied CDU voters voting against the Grand Coalition, and old man Genscher will be advising him on his new job.
That this shallow man advocates cloud-cuckoo-land neolib reforms is not surprising. That the first openly gay minister did not make much of civil rights (in fact his coming-out was more or less involuntary) is a letdown. (Photo from Wikipedia)
Economy minister: Rainer Brüderle (FDP)
Brüderle is federal FDP deputy-everything since 1998. He came from regional politics, that of Rhineland-Palatinate state, once (but not now) a stronghold of the FPD. Back there, he personified the old school FDP that could coalition both left and right. But that was then. (Photo from Wikipedia)
Defense minister: Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (CSU)
Looking fresh and young, the aristocrat golden boy is the new star of the CDU/CSU, soaring in favourability ratings, even though he didn't achieve much. But the FDP's claim for influence on the economy meant that he had to vacate the economy ministry -- which he used to lead following a neoliberal line. (Photo from Wikipedia)
Labour minister: Franz Josef Jung (CDU)
Jung, in turn, was pushed out from the defense ministry. The low-profile hardliner -- a hardcore Atlanticist (right on photo below, with guess who, from Wikipedia), who damaged his position with an unquestioning defense of the NATO bombing of kidnapped fuel trucks in Afghanistan, denying civilian casualties -- is most noteworthy for the network he is part of.
Once upon a time, a bunch of CDU young hotshots visited Pinochet's Chile. On the plane there, they forged an alliance for mutual assistance and refusal of public criticism, and named it Andenpakt. All the members rose high, a number of them becoming state PMs. Jung was faction leader in Hessen state, which was (and is) led by the Andenpakt member then considered most influential, the hawkish Roland Koch.
The Andenpakt was Merkel's biggest stumbling block on her way to power: they attempted a coup twice, once (in 2002) costing her her chancellor candidate position. Merkel slowly neutralised them, however. Jung himself, once made minister, was Koch's man in the federal government. That Jung was de-facto demoted while Koch himself got no job in the end (he was up for finance) shows Koch's loss of influence. (Lower Saxony PM Christian Wulff, a moderate Andenpakt member who replaced Koch as Merkel's most likely successor, was also shown his limits during the coalition talks.)
Justice minister: Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP)
Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger returns to the post: she held it in Kohl's last governments. She is the one bright spot on the list for me: someone committed to civil rights. Back in the Kohl era, she (along with a couple of allies) had the guts to fight to stop a big surveillance reform approved by her own government and even the majority of her own party2 (they eventually managed to stop it by submitting a successful complaint to the constitutional court).
Though she won't have any influence on social policy from that post, it is notewrothy that Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger is also one of the last remains of the FDP's social-liberal wing. For example, at a party conference in 2007, she
held a speech appealing for a focus on equal opportunities, she said that it doesn't suffice to "set only on the growth powers of the market"
However, not much of the social shone through in the Bavarian FDP's profile when, in 2008, it coalitioned with the CSU under her leadership (ending a long history of CSU absolute majority). (Photo from her homepage)
Education & research minister: Annette Schavan (CDU)
Schavan is educated in education and theology, and spent years in a Catholic educational foundation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, she had a central role in the headscarf ban battle in her home state Baden-Württemberg, advocating the most polarised opinion that the Muslim version symbolises the suppression of women while the Catholic doesn't.
However, that didn't impress the arch-conservative Baden-Württemberg CDU membership in the 2004/5 regional PM candidate selection: her suspected liberalism in other matters, and rumours of lesbianism spread by rivals, triggered their patriarchic instinct, and Andenpakt member Günther Oettinger was the winner. (I mention him because Oettinger was chosen to be Germany's next EU Commissioner.)
While Schavan's career advance was blocked in Baden-Württemberg, she was and is a close Merkel ally. Thus she was made research minister in 2005 (and was relatively low-profile in that job). Now she got the education portfolio of the disbanded social ministry (formerly held by the SPD), too. (Photo from Wikipedia)
Family & social minister: Ursula von der Leyen (CDU)
Von der Leyen is another close Merkel ally, whom she promoted into her first government to give her party a socially more modern face. This was not without hypocrisy: in her previous career as Lower Saxony social minister [under Christian Wullf, see section on the new labour minister], she 'made a name' by abolishing the special social benefits for the blind.
However, as federal family minister, von der Leyen caused the biggest debate of the year 2007 in Germany, by proposing a mayor expansion of state-supported daycare. In this, she was opposed by the majority of her own party and churches, and supported from the left. Ultimately, she lost (the reform was stopped from above). In the fight against child pornography, however, she earned flak for fomenting extra-legal ad-hoc internet censorship.
Now she got the social portfolio from the disbanded SPD ministry, too. (Photo from Wikipedia)
Healthcare minister: Philipp Rösler (FDP)
Rösler caught the international media's attention as Germany's first Asian minister -- though he was only born in Vietnam, but adopted as a 9-month-old by German parents, who raised him as German establishment guy down to the name. He is a trained surgeon, but he is no Kenzo Tenma.
Rösler is the FDP's answer to zu Guttenberg: an arrogant yuppie, with nine months as Lower Saxony's economy, labour & transport minister behind him. Though his 2008 pamphlet (in which he attacked the party line for what it is missing, and called for an emphasis on "knowledge, tolerance, [social] cohesion") was interpreted as a call for a more social FDP, I see it more as a call for seizing these themes, too, by advocating marketista recipes. (Photo from Wikipedia)
Environment minister: Norbert Röttgen (CDU)
Röttgen is a low-profile party soldier I haven't heard much about. Apparently, another Merkel man. However, the fact that two years ago, he was up for a job with the powerful German Industrial Association (he chose to remain in politics in the end after being attacked for conflict of interest even within the party) is not a good indication... (Photo from Wikipedia)
Transport & construction minister: Peter Ramsauer (CSU)
Ramsauer was the leader of the CSU contingent of the joint CDU/CSU faction in the federal parliament. As customary for a CSU politician in federal politics, he was a sharp-tongued trouble-maker. His connection to his new job? I don't know, maybe that he is a trained miller?... (Photo from Wikipedia)
Agriculture & consumer [protection] minister: Ilse Aigner (CSU)
Aigner advanced to the post in 2008 (when her predecessor Horst Seehofer returned to Bavaria to be party boss and PM). She made a name earlier this year by pushing through a ban on planting transgenic maize -- although she herself was pushed into it by some transgenic maize scandals, public pressure, and the CSU's sinking numbers. (Photo from her homepage)
Development aid minister: Dirk Niebel (FDP)
Was the FDP's general secretary. A real meanie. He used to work as a job mediator, an experience from which he must have derived his idea that the Federal Labour Office should be cut back to a mere issuer of jobless benefits. Before the elections, he declared the superfluousness of the ministry he now got... (Photo from Wikipedia)
- For the 2002 elections, Jürgen Mölleman wanted to make the FDP a double-digits party with an extremely populist campaign. As part of this, in an attempt to win naturalised immigrants' votes, he started an anti-Israel poster campaign. But, as some posters were bordering on anti-semitism, there was a big [and IMHO over the top] backlash. Would that not be enough, it was revealed that he financed that campaign in shady ways. He then committed suicide by not opening his parachute on a parachute jump.↑
- The law package nicknamed Großer Lauschangriff = "Great Listening-in Attack" was to give police organs the right to use electronic listening devices against anyone, including people with confidence-requiring jobs like attorney, journalist, psychiatrist or Catholic priest. Back then, the excuse du jour wasn't fighting terrorism, but fighting organised crime -- back in the nineties, gangsters from the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia were the Scare Thing.↑