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Germany

Merkel Seeks Strong Allies for Cabinet

Germany's incoming chancellor Angela Merkel huddled with party leaders on Friday seeking big-hitting conservative ministers able to hold their own against coalition partners loyal to Gerhard Schröder.

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Angela Merkel faces tough times without strong support in the cabinet

The deal which saw Merkel land the job of chancellor and oust Schröder came at the price of handing eight ministries, including key roles, to the outgoing chancellor's Social Democrats.

The names of the new Social Democratic ministers were announced on Thursday, including a powerful former state premier, Peer Steinbrück, at the finance ministry and a trusted Schröder lieutenant, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, as foreign minister.

The conservatives are expected on Monday, ahead of the start of negotiations to hammer out the government's program, to announce who will fill their six cabinet posts: at economy, interior, defense, agriculture, education and family, as well as the speaker's chair. Many posts would only be decided until the party's leadership had completed discussions set to stretch into the weekend, officials said.


Rumors abound

Edmund Stoiber

Edmund Stoiber is set to take over the economy ministry

Günther Öttinger, the state premier of Baden-Württemberg, said: "Some ministries are still in the air, others are foreseeable."

The only job announced so far is the economy minister, with the conservative leader of the powerful state of Bavaria, Edmund Stoiber (photo), taking the job.

Other names tipped to take the conservatives' big jobs are lesser known outside Germany. Franz Josef Jung, a leading member of the Christian Democratic government in the state of Hesse, which includes Germany's financial hub of Frankfurt, is rumored to be in line for the job as defense minister. Jung is considered to be a versatile politician but, like Steinmeier, has little international profile.

Kompetenzteam: Wolfgang Schäuble, Porträt

Wolfgang Schäuble

The interior ministry however looks destined for the familiar face of Wolfgang Schäuble, a confidant of conservative former chancellor Helmut Kohl and who previously held the job from 1989 to 1991. Schäuble, wheelchair-bound after an attempt on his life in 1990, is well-respected and would be a trusted hand in a government short on experience at national level.



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