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Germany: Scholz Announces Names of New Ministers

This is an important week in the Federal Republic of Germany. Olaf Scholz will most likely be elected Chancellor by the Berlin Bundestag on Wednesday. He just stood in front of the cameras to tell the nation who will be part of his cabinet.

Berlin, December 6th, 2021 (The Berlin Spectator) — Ten weeks after the triple election win for the German Social Democrats, which nobody expected, big questions were answered. The SPD’s future Chancellor Olaf Scholz just announced the names of his Ministers. As expected, Labor Minister Hubertus Heil, who was part of Angela Merkel’s cabinet in her grand coalition, will keep his job. Christine Lambrecht, who did a very convincing job as Justice Minister under Chancellor Merkel, will take over the Defense Ministry.

Lauterbach to be Health Minister

Scholz said his choice for the position of Interior Minister was Nancy Feser. As head of the SPD in the federal state of Hesse, she got a lot of approval for the job she did. Karl Lauterbach, the SPD’s health expert, will take over the Health Ministry from Jens Spahn. Because of the Corona crisis, it is one of the most important ministries. Lauterbach has been very active since the crisis hit Germany in early 2020. Klara Geywitz is about to set up the new Ministry for Construction and Living. Svenja Schulze was Environment Minister in Mrs. Merkel’s government. Now she is supposed to move to the Ministry of International Development. Wolfgang Schmidt will be Scholz’ Chancellery Minister.

Christine Lambrecht stated, the position as Defense Minister was a big challenge. People who knew her, including Olaf Scholz, knew that she liked challenges of this kind. She thanked the future Chancellor for the mark of confidence he had shown by appointing her. Karl Lauterbach said the Corona pandemic would take longer than many thought. “We will win the fight against the pandemic”, he vowed.

Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck

The other two partners in the new ‘traffic light coalition’ had already announced their Ministers before. Christian Lindner of the center-right FDP will be Finance Minister the minute he is sworn in later this week. This is a natural position for him as fiscal policies and finances are his expertise. In the coalition talks, he and his party enforced one of their firm demands: There are not supposed to be tax hikes for the rich or for anyone in Germany.

Robert Habeck will be Commerce and Climate Minister. His Green party made sure the Commerce Ministry was extended accordingly because it will not leave the climate policy to anyone else. Habeck is supposed to be Vice Chancellor as well. It will not be his first job as Minister. In 2013, he took over the Ministry for Energy, the Environment and Agriculture in his home state of Schleswig-Holstein.

Youngest Foreign Minister Ever

One of the most interesting members of the new government might be Annalena Baerbock. She became the Greens’ first candidate for Chancellor when the polls looked a lot better for her party, months before the elections. Instead, she is set to take over the Foreign Ministry before this week ends. She will not only be the first woman on the job, but also the youngest Foreign Minister Germany ever had. At age 40, Mrs. Baerbock is a bit younger than her party.

Volker Wissing, today’s secretary general of the FDP, is supposed to become Transport and Digitization Minister, his party colleague Marco Buschmann Minister of Justice, and Bettina Stark-Watzinger, another fellow FDP member, will be heading the Ministry of Education and Research.

Forty-Eight Hours to Go

Of course, the Greens got a few more ministries too. Steffi Lemke, a prominent figure in the party, will be Germany’s new Environment Minister, Cem Özdemir is supposed to become Minister of Agriculture, and Anne Spiegel Family Minister. Steffi Lemke might have a difficult role because Robert Habeck will be responsible for the climate policy. They will have to cooperate. For instance, Habeck could play a more international role, by coordinating the fight against climate change with the rest of the world, while Steffi Lemke deals with policies and issues within Germany.

Before the new Ministers get going, two more things need to happen. Later today, the Greens intend to announce whether they officially approve the coalition agreement. On Wednesday, Olaf Scholz has to be elected Chancellor before he can get going. Scholz and his future ministers are chafing at the bit, but they need about 48 additional hours of patience.

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