The new Government of Merkel, between the continuity and the new faces

The next Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government will be under the sign of continuity, repeating in its fourth term the formula of the grand coalition, although the headlines of the most important ministries change and include new faces.

In front of Foreign Affairs will be until now the head of Justice, Heiko Maas, social democrat and little known in the international sphere, while the position of Finance, with the rank of vice chancellor, will be occupied by his fellow Olaf Scholz.

They are the most prominent of the list of six ministers presented today in public by the Social Democratic Party (SPD), after the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Merkel and its twinned Union Social Christian (CSU) Bavarian designated their own in days before.

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Scholz, acting president of the SPD, and the head of his parliamentary group and predictably the next leader of the party, Andrea Nahles, made those names official a few days after the investiture session of the foreign minister, next Wednesday, March 14.

Scholz, until now prime minister of Hamburg, represents the most centrist line of the SPD; He was the Labor Minister in Merkel’s first term and the fact that now occupies Finance, a ministry that usually corresponds to the conservative bloc, was a concession to the Social Democrats in the harsh negotiation of the Government pact.

The designation of Maas for Foreign Affairs was taken for granted for weeks, but until yesterday his name did not jump to the media as the new head of German diplomacy.

The assignment of Foreign Affairs had resulted in a hard internal pulse, since both the outgoing minister, Sigmar Gabriel, and the former president and candidate of the SPD to the Foreign Ministry, Martin Schulz, had aspired to occupy the post in the next government.

Gabriel, who in the previous legislature was Minister of Economy and the Foreign Affairs, as well as Vice Chancellor, announced yesterday that he will not be part of the new Executive nor will he have relevant posts in the SPD, the party he presided over from 2009 to 2017.

Schulz, for his part, resigned to continue presiding over the party and to be the foreign minister a few days after reaching a coalition pact, amid strong internal tensions.

The struggle for Foreign Affairs has thus ended in favor of a third party, Maas, a politician who, as head of Justice, has stood out for the hardening of the laws against hate messages on the Internet, against racism and the extreme right.

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The most relevant of the remaining four ministries of the SPD is Trabajo, which will be held by his former secretary general of the Hubertus Heil party.

Both the SPD and the CDU – with six ministers each – have respected gender parity in their distribution, while the three ministries of the Bavarian CSU will be occupied by men.

Seven members of the Executive -including the Chancellor- will be women, compared to nine men, and their average age will be 51 years.

It will be the third major coalition led by Merkel, since only in its second term governed supported by another partner – the Liberal Party (FDP) – but at least in the allocation of positions there is a certain will to renew.

Among the ministries of the CDU of Merkel, only two will be occupied by politicians with experience as ministers: Ursula von der Leyen, who will repeat in Defense, and Peter Altmaier, who will go from the minister of the Chancellery to occupy Economy.

The rest are new additions and the most outstanding will be that of Jens Spahn, next Minister of Health, 37, a recognized homosexual and representative of the most right-wing and critical of the party towards the chancellor.

The vice-president of the CDU, Julia Klöckner, will also be premiering in Agriculture, who was considered for some time eternal candidate to succeed Merkel.

The CDU will not have any original minister from East Germany – the territory where the chancellor grew up – something that has already raised criticism in its ranks.

The only minister from that half of the country will be the Social Democrat Franziska Giffey, who at 39 years old will jump from the post of mayor of a troubled neighborhood in Berlin, Neuköln, to the Ministry of the Family.

Between the ministries of the CSU emphasizes the one of Interior, that will be for until now leader of the Bavarian formation and regional prime minister, Horst Seehofer, defender of the hard line in immigration policy and of the restrictions to the refugees.

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