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German Chancellor Merkel’s Third-Term Cabinet: List of Ministers

German Chancellor Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel waves to members of her Christian Democratic Union during a party congress in Berlin, on Dec. 9, 2013. Photographer: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) -- The following are the members of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s third-term cabinet.

Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union has seven posts in the 16-member cabinet including that of chancellor, while its CSU Bavarian ally fields three ministers. The Social Democratic Party, which is set to become Merkel’s junior coalition partner, has six posts.

The ministers were announced by the respective party leaders in Berlin and in Munich today. Merkel and her cabinet are due to be sworn in on Dec. 17.

Angela Merkel, 59, CDU (chancellor)

Overseeing her third government, Merkel has been chancellor since she first won election in 2005. Germany’s first woman chancellor and its first from the former communist East Germany, Merkel joined the Christian Democratic Union after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and rapidly climbed the ranks, serving as families minister and then environment minister under CDU Chancellor Helmut Kohl before becoming party chairwoman in 2000.

Merkel was opposition leader during most of SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s two terms before defeating him at the 2005 election to lead her first so-called grand coalition with his party. Her second term was dominated by the sovereign debt crisis that spread from Greece. With Germany the largest contributor to euro-area bailouts, Merkel rose in prominence to become Europe’s undisputed leader.

Wolfgang Schaeuble, 71, CDU (finance)

An architect of German reunification and the longest-serving legislator in Merkel’s government, Schaeuble is most experienced member of her cabinet. A wheelchair user since being shot at a campaign appearance in 1990, he served as interior minister and chief of staff under Helmut Kohl, then again as interior minister in Merkel’s first term.

Appointed finance minister in 2009, he was Merkel’s point man throughout the debt crisis, clashing with his European counterparts this year over rules to deal with bank failures. After suffering bouts of ill health in 2010 related to his wheelchair use, he has declared himself to be fit and keener than ever to remain in politics and serve in his post.

Ursula von der Leyen, 55, CDU (defense)

Consistently among Germany’s most popular politicians, von der Leyen has contradicted official CDU policy by championing pension increases and backing fixed quotas for women on company boards, a position opposed by Merkel. She oversaw the Families Ministry in Merkel’s first term and became Labor Minister amid a cabinet reshuffle weeks into second term, presiding over a decline in unemployment to a two-decade low.

A doctor and mother of seven children, von der Leyen is the daughter of a prominent one-time CDU premier of Lower Saxony, Ernst Albrecht. German media said she was a contender for the German presidency in 2010 following the sudden resignation of Horst Koehler. More recently, she advocated a Europe-wide labor market to reduce record youth unemployment rates in countries such as Spain and Greece.

Thomas de Maiziere, 59, CDU (interior affairs)

De Maiziere has been a Merkel confidant since serving in a number of state governments in eastern Germany after reunification. He was the chancellor’s chief-of-staff in her first government before moving to the Interior Ministry and then the Defense Ministry after the 2011 resignation of Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg amid plagiarism charges.

Previously viewed as a possible heir to Merkel as chancellor, de Maiziere’s came udner opposition pressure to resign last summer amid exploding costs for a Euro Hawk spy drone project.

Peter Altmaier, 55, CDU (chief of staff)

A native of the former coal-mining region of Saarland, Altmaier is known as a Merkel loyalist and confidant. Having served as the CDU’s chief whip in the lower house, Altmaier was appointed to the Environment Ministry in May 2012 after the chancellor fired the incumbent, Norbert Roettgen.

Once there, he clashed with the Economy Ministry led by Merkel’s Free Democratic junior coalition party which shared responsibility for aspects of Germany’s switch to clean energy from nuclear power. Energy policy has now shifted to the SPD-run Economy Ministry, with the SPD also taking over at environment. A regular user of Twitter Inc., Altmaier takes over as Merkel’s chief of staff in the chancellery from Ronald Pofalla, who is leaving politics, according to Der Spiegel.

Johanna Wanka, 62, CDU (education)

An academic who grew up in East Germany, Wanka was recruited into the state government in Brandenburg in 2000 to oversee science and research. Soon after, she joined the CDU and climbed the ranks to lead the party in the 2009 state election, which it lost to the SPD. After a stint as a minister in Lower Saxony, Merkel appointed her to replace Annette Schavan -- her government’s second casualty to plagiarism charges -- as federal education minister in February this year.

Hermann Groehe, 52, CDU (health)

Groehe took over from Pofalla as the CDU’s general secretary in 2009 and was credited with marshalling Merkel’s electoral victory this year, the party’s best result since reunification in 1990.

A former leader of the CDU’s youth wing, his first cabinet post sees him take over health from the Free Democrat, Daniel Bahr, who in common with his whole party failed to win re-election.

Alexander Dobrindt, 43, CSU (transport and digital infrastructure)

As his party’s general secretary, Dobrindt was the chief strategist credited with securing the CSU’s back-to-back electoral victories in Bavaria and nationally. Known for his straight talking, his words prompted Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to demand an end to the “cacophony” of speculation last year after he said that Greece wouldn’t be in the euro area by 2013. Dobrindt followed that up by calling ECB President Mario Draghi a “money forger.”

His first job at transport will be attempting to meet his party’s campaign pledge to introduce a road toll on Germany’s Autobahns for foreigners.

Hans-Peter Friedrich, 56, CSU (agriculture)

Friedrich was plucked from his position as the CSU’s caucus leader in the Bundestag in 2011 to fill one of the party’s three slots in Merkel’s cabinet after the resignation of Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.

As interior minister, Friedrich was criticized by the opposition last summer on his return from the U.S. for backing NSA data collection as a means to defend Germany against terrorism. The SPD’s candidate as chancellor, Peer Steinbrueck, called Friedrich’s statements a “complete insult.”

Gerd Mueller, 58, CSU (development aid)

Mueller, a former foreign and European policy spokesman for his party’s caucus in the federal parliament in Berlin, he takes on his first cabinet post at the expense of the FDP. He served as a deputy at the Agriculture Ministry from 2005.

Sigmar Gabriel, 54, SPD (economy and energy)

The SPD chairman since 2009, when the party had its worst postwar election loss, Gabriel has turned the Social Democrats’ third successive electoral defeat to Merkel on Sept. 22 into a share of government, after successfully navigating the three-month process of coalition negotiations and a ballot of about 475,000 party members, who endorsed the accord.

Gabriel served in Merkel’s first-term government from 2005 to 2009 as environment minister. Before that, he was active in regional politics in Lower Saxony, rising to the state premiership in 1999, a year after Gerhard Schroeder resigned the same post to become chancellor. Gabriel, who will probably be made vice-chancellor by Merkel, takes on responsibility for Germany’s energy overhaul as part of a newly configured Economy Ministry.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, 57, SPD (foreign affairs)

A protégé and former chief-of-staff of SPD Chancellor Schroeder, Steinmeier operated behind the scenes coordinating security policy with the U.S. in the years after Sept. 11. Following Schroeder’s electoral loss and the SPD’s shift to become Merkel’s junior partner in 2005, Steinmeier was appointed foreign minister.

As vice-chancellor toward the end of Merkel’s first term, Steinmeier was chosen to run against Merkel as the party’s candidate in 2009 -- leading to the SPD’s worst defeat since World War II. For the past four years he’s led the party’s caucus in the Bundestag as opposition leader. In August 2010, he left politics temporarily to donate a kidney to his wife. Since then, polls consistently show him to be among Germany’s most popular politicians.

Andrea Nahles, 43, SPD (labor and social affairs)

A head of the Social Democratic youth organization in the 1990s, Nahles was an outspoken critic within the party of Schroeder’s Agenda 2010 labor policies. As party leaders sought to reconcile the bickering factions in the post-Schroeder era, Nahles gained in leverage and became general secretary in 2009. She oversaw the SPD’s electoral campaign.

She takes on a key ministry for the SPD, which won a concession from Merkel to implement a national minimum hourly wage of 8.50 euros ($11.68).

Manuela Schwesig, 39, SPD (families, pensioners, women and youth)

Schwesig, who like Merkel grew up in East Germany, has established herself in regional politics in the Baltic coastal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania where Merkel has her electoral district.

In 2009, she was recruited by Steinmeier to advocate the national party’s family-friendly policies during his losing campaign for chancellor, and repeated that role this year. She now moves from her current role as the regional state minister for labor, equality and social affairs to federal families minister, a position also occupied by Merkel in her first cabinet post under CDU Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

Barbara Hendricks, 61, SPD (environment, building and nuclear-reactor safety)

Hendricks served as deputy minister under three finance ministers: Oskar Lafontaine, Hans Eichel and Peer Steinbrueck, who ran against Merkel in this year’s election. She has been party treasurer since 2007.

Hendricks is from the SPD heartland of North Rhine-Westphalia, where she’s played a role in state politics since the late 1980s.

Heiko Maas, 47, SPD (justice and consumer protection)

Maas was the surprise appointment of the SPD’s cabinet picks. The SPD leader in the western state of Saarland, he has experience of serving in a coalition with Merkel’s Christian Democrats: he has been deputy prime minister in Saarland since May 2012 after opting for a grand coalition following the SPD’s defeat in a regional election by the CDU.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Donahue in Berlin at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at

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