Germany's new coalition government still has one theoretical hurdle to jump, but "insider sources" have started leaking ministerial posts to the domestic press. Many of the new faces will seem somewhat familiar.
Insider sources from both of Germany's largest parties have begun leaking further indications about the potential make-up of a grand coalition government, ahead of results from a Social Democrat (SPD) members' vote either for or against the alliance.
Results of that SPD ballot, being counted in a former Berlin railway station (pictured above), were expected late Saturday afternoon, local time.
The louder indications on which politicians would fill which cabinet posts came late Friday from the Social Democrat camp.
Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer of the CSU - the sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats - told reporters the conservative bloc would name its ministerial choices at a joint press conference on Sunday.
The Düsseldorf-based daily newspaper Rheinische Post speculated, however, that veteran Christian Democrat Wolfgang Schäuble would retain his current post as federal finance minister.
The paper's report cited insider sources, saying Schäuble's appointment was "certain according to our editorial team's information."
Schäuble, at 71, would also become the oldest person ever to be nominated for a federal cabinet post.
Other reports in Germany have posited the identities of other conservatives in the cabinet without claiming to be certain.
Current labor minister Ursula von der Leyen is tipped to become health minister. Thomas de Maiziére would remain as defense minister.
Reuters on Saturday said Merkel's chief of staff at the chancellery, Ronald Pofalla, would not claim a cabinet position. He would be replaced in the chancellery by Peter Altmeier, Germany's current environment minister.
Social Democrat cats out of bag
The six ministerial portfolios earmarked for the Social Democrats were published in Bild, Spiegel and other major publications on Friday, and later substantiated by the German dpa news agency.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Merkel's unsuccessful challenger in 2009, is tipped to return to the post of foreign minister that he held during Merkel's first term in office atop a grand coalition between 2005 and 2009.
Sigmar Gabriel, instead of taking the foreign minister's post traditionally reserved for the top politician from the junior coalition partner, would instead head up a new "super ministry," combining the portfolios of economy and energy.
This long-mooted possibility has been billed as a chance to streamline Germany's so-called "Energiewende" efforts to move towards renewable sources of energy.
The party's secretary general Andrea Nahles was named as likely labor minister. The deputy state premier of the state of Saarland, Heiko Maas, looks set to become the next federal justice minister.
Manuela Schwesig was named as the likely next family affairs minister.
The post of environment minister was attributed to Barbara Hendricks, the SPD's treasurer from the traditional coal-mining and industrial state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).
Heinricks worked in NRW's state environment ministry in the early 90s.
A touch premature
The German coalition government is still subject to approval in an unprecedented postal ballot among the Social Democrats' party members. The executive of the likely junior coalition partner offered its grass roots the chance to torpedo its coalition agreement with Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democrats.
The deadline to vote has passed, and Social Democrat leader Sigmar Gabriel said around 70 percent of members had submitted a postal ballot. The party had said the vote's result would only be binding in the case of 40-percent turnout.
The ballot count was taking place on Saturday at a former railway station in Berlin's suburb of Kreuzberg.
SPD treasurer Hendricks said 400 helpers had been asked to temporarily do without their mobile phones to avoid the risk of leaks via social media. Volunteers were able to stash their phones in lockers.
msh, ipj/ccp (AFP, dpa, Reuters)