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Merkel cabinet complete as SPD claims key finance, foreign ministries

AFP  |  Berlin 

Germany's second biggest party, the Social Democrats, today named their ministers in Angela Merkel's next government, completing a cabinet lineup in which they snatched the and foreign affairs portfolios.

Olaf Scholz, 59, the of the Social Democrats (SPD), will take over the powerful which in recent years was led by fiscal hawk of Merkel's

Heiko Maas, the SPD's outgoing justice minister, will take the prestigious post of running the foreign ministry, according to the party's designated next leader

Both Merkel's conservative CDU/bloc and the SPD, the two mainstream parties in Europe's biggest economy, lost millions of votes to far-right populists in last September's election.

This has forced them, after six months of torturous negotiations involving multiple parties, into another unhappy marriage of convenience dubbed a grand coalition or "GroKo".

Merkel, aged 63 and in power for 12 years, is due to formally launch her fourth-term next Wednesday.

But unrest is brewing within her party following a historically poor election result and Merkel's decision to give up key cabinet posts as the price of holding onto power.

Given the mutual distrust between the two big parties, "it's possible that this coalition won't last four years," one senior CDU source has told AFP. "Unlike in the past, I'm not sure this time."

The SPD, demoralised by plummeting poll figures and damaging infighting, on Friday celebrated rare good -- the key ministries they have wrested from Merkel's team in tough coalition haggling.

Scholz said the SPD's ministers, three men and three women, were "a good team of people with a high level of expertise and the ability to run large organisations".

Nahles then formally announced that Scholz, the of the city-state of Hamburg, would take over the finance ministry, which has been led in recent months by Merkel's deputy Peter Altmaier, 59.

She said Scholz had led the wealthy river port "with a keen eye on finances, with budgetary discipline on the one hand and future-oriented investments in education, research and infrastructure on the other".

Nahles then introduced Maas, 51, praising his "endurance" as a triathlete and the "diplomatic finesse, backbone and clear stance against racism" he had shown as

She said this would help Maas, who has little international experience, in a job where increasingly acted "as a in a disorderly world".

Taking over the justice portfolio will be Katarina Barley, 49, a former judge, while Hubertus Heil, 45, becomes and Svenja Schulze, 49, takes on the environment post at a time is on course to miss its ambitious climate targets.

Absent from the SPD line-up were the two men who have dominated the party in its tumultuous past year -- election loser Martin Schulz, who bowed out weeks ago, and outgoing top Sigmar Gabriel, whose go-it-alone style has long angered Scholz and Nahles.

Nahles -- soon to become the 153-year-old labour party's first female leader -- has shown, by sending her nemesis Gabriel to the backbenches, that she knows "revenge is a dish best served cold", judged Spiegel Online.

Among Merkel's conservatives, der Leyen, 59, stays on in the defence ministry and the chancellor's loyal right-hand man Altmaier is rewarded with the economy and

In a nod to a new generation, outspoken Merkel Jens Spahn, 37, becomes while two women, Julia Kloeckner, 45, and Anja Karliczek, 46, take over the agriculture and education portfolios respectively.

Andreas Scheuer, 43, of Merkel's conservative Bavarian sister party the CSU, will become transport minister, wresting with Germany's auto pollution scandal, while Gerd Mueller, 62, stays on as

Crucially, the embattled outgoing Horst Seehofer, 68, as Germany's next in charge of security takes over a rebranded "homeland" ministry in a bid to answer the challenge of the new far-right.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, March 09 2018. 17:45 IST