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Germany's SPD names six cabinet ministers

The first six ministerial posts in Chancellor Angela Merkel's next coalition cabinet have been confirmed by partner Social Democrat leader Sigmar Gabriel. Merkel unveils her conservatives' ministers later on Sunday.

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Germany's cabinet part-named

Social Democrat (SPD) chairman Gabriel

announced Sunday that the party's general secretary, Andrea Nahles (both pictured above), would become labor minister, a key post watched by Germany's trade unions.

Former Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier would return to the post he held from 2005 until 2009 in a previous Merkel-led grand coalition.

Gabriel, himself, would head a new combined economy and energy ministry with an emphasis on advancing

Germany's transit to renewable energy sources.

Germany's environment ministry is to be headed by the SPD's treasurer, Barbara Hendricks. She oversaw Saturday's ballot in which

party members voted by 76 percent to proceed with a coalition with Merkel's conservatives.

SPD deputy chairwoman Manuela Schwesig will head Germany's ministry for family affairs, senior citizens, women and youth.

Germany's next federal minister for justice and customer rights will be Heiko Maas, a senior politician from Saarland, Germany's western state neighboring France and Luxembourg.

Gabriel said cabinet meetings would also be attended by a seventh SPD executive member of Turkish origin, Aydan Özuguz. She becomes states minister attached to the chancellery for issues of migration, refugees and integration.

The job of organizing the SPD group in the Bundestag parliament, currently held by Steinmeier, will go to SPD party executive member Thomas Oppermann.

CDU/CSU posts

Merkel is due to announce her conservatives' postings in cabinet later on Sunday

after a series of executive meetings of her Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian ally, the Christian Social Union (CSU).

Multiple media reports indicate that CDU veteran Wolfgang Schäuble will retain the post of finance minister.

The greatest speculation has centered on the incumbent labor minister in Merkel's previous cabinet, Ursula von der Leyen. She is tipped to become defense minister, with incumbent Thomas de Maiziere returning to the post of interior minister.

Cabinet inaugurations are due to take place on Tuesday.

'Super' ministry worries Greens

In initial reactions, the opposition Greens co-leader Simone Peter said the fusion of energy policy in a Gabriel-led economy ministry would place more influence in the hands of Germany's energy and coal-mining concerns.

"The SPD will become for the chancellor (Merkel) a clean-sweeping caretaker to bury the energy turnaround," Peter said. The energy portfolio should have been allocated to the environment ministry, she added.

In Germany's federal election on September 22, Merkel triumphed by winning 41.5 percent on the back of a strong economy, but fell five seats short of reaping an absolute majority.

The Social Democrats limped to second place with 25.7 percent. Merkel's previous partners, the pro-business liberal Free Democrats, failed to re-enter the Bundestag parliament.

ipj/kms (Reuters, dpa, epd)

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