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Government Denies Cabinet Reshuffle Plans

The German government dismissed press allegations that Finance Minister Hans Eichel would be replaced in the next cabinet shuffle. Der Spiegel newsmagazine had reported that Eichel, who has been under fire for failing to contain Germany's high deficit, and Health Minister Ulla Schmidt, who critics say has mismanaged reforming the country's social security and healthcare systems, would lose their posts. They would be replaced by KfW bank managing board member Ingrid Matthäus-Maier and IG BCE trade union head Hubertus Schmoldt respectively. Matthäus-Maier, formerly the Social Democratic party's finance expert, and IG BCE also dismissed the claims. Der Spiegel wrote that Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had already discussed the changes with his chancellery chief, but that neither candidate had yet been officially asked because a date for a reshuffle had not been set.