Angela Merkel warns of tough negotiations ahead

17th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

17 October 2005, BERLIN - Germany's designated chancellor, Angela Merkel, on Monday announced a full list of cabinet members while warning that negotiations with outgoing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats for a grand coalition would be very difficult.

17 October 2005

BERLIN - Germany's designated chancellor, Angela Merkel, on Monday announced a full list of cabinet members while warning that negotiations with outgoing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats for a grand coalition would be very difficult.


Merkel's Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU) opens formal coalition talks with the Social Democrats (SPD) later Monday.

"There will be tough negotiations," said Merkel, adding that both parties were very serious about hammering out a deal.

Among likely sticking points will be labour market reforms aimed at tackling the country's unemployment rate of over 11 per cent. Merkel wants to loosen Germany's tough laws on sacking workers but the SPD is strongly opposed to any such moves.

Also controversial are Merkel's calls for raising sales tax to 18 per cent from the current 16 per cent.

Talks are expected to last at least until mid-November and the new government is unlikely to be elected by parliament until the end of next month or early December.

The CDU/CSU line-up includes heavyweights such as former party leader Wolfgang Schaeuble as interior minister and Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber as economics minister.

Less well known, even in Germany, is the future defence minister, Franz-Josef Jung, who is a regional parliamentary leader in Hesse state.

Agriculture minister will be Horst Seehofer who formerly served as federal health minister under chancellor Helmut Kohl.

Annete Schavan will be education minister and Ursula von der Leyen is to become minister for family affairs.

The potentially powerful chancellery minister will be Thomas de Maiziere, a lawyer who is currently interior minister in Saxony state.

Schroeder's SPD announced its cabinet line-up last week.

Topping the list is SPD chairman Franz Muentefering who will control the powerful labour ministry and serve as deputy chancellor.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who currently serves as Schroeder's chief-of-staff, will be foreign minister. Finance minister will be the pro-reformer Peer Steinbrueck, who was formerly premier of North Rhine-Westphalia state.

*sidebar1*Three current SPD ministers will remain at their current posts: Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries; Health Minister Ulla Schmidt; and Development Aid Minister Heidemarie Wieczroek-Zeul.

Former Lower Saxony premier Sigmar Gabriel will be environment minister, and the popular SPD mayor of Leipzig, Wolfgang Tiefensee, is to be transport minister.

Chancellor Schroeder has said he will not serve under Merkel but is still taking part in coalition negotiations.

Schroeder's future remains unclear. The chancellor has not said if he plans to quit politics entirely, and there are reports that the 61-year-old plans to work as a consultant for a major company or bank.

DPA

Subject: German news

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