Merkel rivals to join German cabinet, talks start
Updated: 2005-10-18 10:02
A FINE LINE
With rivals from the SPD and her own conservative ranks in the cabinet,
Merkel will be walking a fine line as she tries to reconcile conflicting
personal and policy objectives.
Merkel's conservatives were forced into coalition talks with outgoing
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's SPD after they failed to win enough support in
last month's election to govern with their reform-minded allies, the Free
Formal talks between
the CDU/CSU and the SPD began on Monday with a three-hour discussion aimed at
securing consensus over the broad policy themes to be pursued by the new
A combination of 16 pictures shows the new
German Government named by coalition partners October 17, 2005. Christian
Democrats (CDU and CSU) ministers (top row L-R) Chancellor, Angela Merkel;
Economy and Technology, Edmund Stoiber; Interior, Wolfgang Schaeuble;
Defence, Franz Josef Jung; Education and Research, Annette Schavan;
Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Horst Seehofer; Family, Ursula von
der Leyen; Chancellory, Thomas de Maizere. Social Democratic Party (SPD)
ministers (bottom row L-R) Vice Chancellor and Labour, Franz Muentefering;
Finance, Peer Steinbrueck; Foreign, Frank-Walter Steinmeier; Health, Ulla
Schmidt; Environment, Sigmar Gabriel; Transport, Wolfgang Tiefensee;
Justice, Brigitte Zypries; International Development, Heidemarie
Top priorities will include bringing the budget deficit back within EU limits
by 2007, addressing Germany's chronic unemployment problem and untangling the
web of conflicting state and federal powers that have hampered past governments.
"There was a good spirit to the discussion but that shouldn't conceal the
fact that we will have very, very hard negotiations," Merkel told reporters
after the meeting.
Small groups of experts will meet this week to discuss individual policy
areas before the next big meeting on October 24, but SPD leader Franz
Muentefering, named as vice chancellor in the coalition, said one thing was
"There won't be any tax cuts. There's no
room for that," he said. "That's a clear statement from both sides."
German Chancellor-designate Angela Merkel
calls the room to order with a bell prior a meeting of the Christian
Democratic Union (CDU) parliamentary group at the parliament in Berlin.
In exchange for agreeing to let Merkel become chancellor, the SPD won the
right to name eight of the 16 cabinet members, including the powerful finance,
foreign and labor ministers.
According to a paper drawn up by the SPD for the Monday talks, the federal
government needs to find at least 14.5 billion euros in extra revenues or
spending cuts in 2006, out of a total budget of about 250 billion euros, and 25
billion euros in 2007, to make its budget conform with European Union rules.
In addition to Schaeuble, Stoiber and Seehofer, Franz Josef Jung, a top CDU
politician in the state of Hesse, was nominated on Monday to become defense
minister. Jung, 56, is close to Hesse Premier Roland Koch, another CDU rival of