With less than five weeks to go until Germany's federal elections, the conservative candidate for Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has presented her campaign team -- a line-up of six men and three women.
Merkel and her team get ready "to do things better"
On Wednesday, Angela Merkel presented her "dream team" of advisors to help her take the office of chancellor from Gerhard Schröder. "We're a strong team and we're ready to show Germany that we can do things better," she said.
Former constitutional court judge Paul Kirchhof was named as finance expert onto Merkel's dream team
One of the most important positions, that of financial affairs, will be filled by Paul Kirchhof (photo), a former constitutional court judge and tax expert, who would cover the field of finances. His background has been criticized by some experts.
"Politics should not be about appointing friends but about competence and political experience and (Friedrich) Merz is clearly the one with those attributes," Peter Lösche, a political scientist at Göttingen University, told Reuters.
Friedrich Merz, probably the CDU's best financial expert, fell out with Merkel during the power struggle for leadership within the Christian Democrats last year, thus leaving a large hole in that area within the party. Kirchhof, who is an independent, has been a vocal advocate of a simplified tax code. In fact, Merz assumed many of his ideas while he served as deputy party chairman.
While some suggested that Merkel would create a "mega ministry" for finances, economics and labor in case she gets elected, the CDU leader said this would not make any sense. There had been speculation that Edmund Stoiber would give up his job as Bavarian premier to take on such a ministry.
"Everyone can see that the minister of finance has his plate full," Merkel told German weekly Stern. "I can't really imagine merging finances, economics and labor into one ministry."
Beckstein to cover interior affairs
Peter Müller, currently premier of the small state of Saarland
The new economics minister then could be Peter Müller (photo), premier of the small western state of Saarland, who will cover that area in Merkel's shadow cabinet.
For interior affairs, Bavarian interior minister Günther Beckstein got the nod. He would replace current German Interior Minister Otto Schily, should the CDU win on Sept.18.
Wolfgang Schäuble, a longtime foreign policy expert, even under former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, will serve as European and foreign affairs advisor.
Ursula von der Leyen, minister for social affairs in the state of Lowe Saxony, will take on family and social affairs. Annette Schavan, minister for research and education in the state of Baden-Württemberg, will advise Merkel in the same capacity. Gerda Hasselfeldt, a former federal minister for construction, will serve as expert for agricultural, environmental and consumer affairs. Norbert Lammert, a vice president of Germany's parliament, covers culture in the "competence team."
Apart from Dieter Althaus, the premier of the eastern state of Thuringia, who will advise Merkel on eastern German affairs, all members of the team have in principle agreed to serve in a cabinet under Merkel should she be elected chancellor, the CDU leader said
A potential successor for Otto Schily, Günther Beckstein
Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber will not serve in any particular capacity. But Stoiber, who irked conservative allies by making disparaging remarks about eastern Germans last week, is expected to attend Merkel's press conference announcing her team.
Stoiber's refusal to commit to moving to Berlin until after the poll has been a source of great irritation to Merkel and the CDU. Because he is head of the CDU's Bavarian sister party, the CSU, nobody could hinder him from taking a post in Berlin after Sept. 18.