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Viewing cable 09BERLIN1360, THE NEW GERMAN CABINET - AN OVERVIEW

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BERLIN1360 2009-10-29 06:06 2010-11-28 18:06 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Berlin
VZCZCXRO3059
RR RUEHIK
DE RUEHRL #1360/01 3020636
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 290636Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5600
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 BERLIN 001360 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958:  N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PINR GM
SUBJECT: THE NEW GERMAN CABINET - AN OVERVIEW 
 
Ref: Berlin 1337, Berlin 1340, Berlin 1167 
 
BERLIN 00001360  001.2 OF 004 
 
 
1. (SBU) Chancellor Merkel's new Cabinet emerged early on October 24 
after a month of intense media speculation about its make-up; it 
contained several surprises.  Perhaps the most unexpected 
announcements were that of former Interior Minister Schaeuble as 
Finance Minister and former Economics Minister Karl-Theodor zu 
Guttenberg as the new Defense Minister.  The Christian Democratic 
Union (CDU) will run the Chancellery as well as six ministries and 
have a minister without portfolio, the Free Democratic Party (FDP) 
will hold five as well as the Vice Chancellorship, and the Christian 
Social Union (CSU), three.  The ministerial competencies and their 
names remain unchanged.  Following is a short description of 
Merkel's new Cabinet, which was formally sworn in on October 28: 
 
Chief of the Chancellery and Minister 
Without Portfolio: Ronald Pofalla (CDU) 
-------------------------------------- 
 
Pofalla, 50, takes over from Thomas de Maiziere as the Chancellor's 
chief of staff.  Pofalla is a lawyer and since 2005 served as CDU 
Secretary General.  He is known as a close confidant of Angela 
Merkel.  As Secretary General, he had been criticized as lacking a 
public profile and not being aggressive enough.  From 2004-2005 he 
served as deputy caucus leader for economics and labor issues in the 
Bundestag.  Also within the Chancellery, Merkel's security and 
foreign policy advisor Christoph Heusgen remains, as do Maria 
Boehmer as Minister of State for Migration, Refugees and Integration 
and Bernd Neumann, Minister of State for Culture and Media.  Eckart 
von Klaeden (CDU and a Merkel confidant) becomes State Minister in 
the Chancellery for coordination with the federal states and 
parliamentary contacts. 
 
Foreign Affairs: Guido Westerwelle (FDP) 
--------------------------------------- 
 
Westerwelle, 47, becomes Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor -- as 
expected.  Economic Assistance will not be included in the Foreign 
office, but the FDP will also control that ministry.  Minister of 
State within the MFA will be Werner Hoyer, who already served in 
that function under Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel from 1994-1998. 
He also was Westerwelle's foreign policy adviser in the election 
campaign.  He will cover all divisions apart from "culture" and 
"economics and sustainable development."  The other Minister of 
State is Cornelia Pieper, deputy FDP chairperson, who has no 
experience in this field and will reportedly focus on cultural and 
communication issues.  Martin Biesel, Westerwelle's Bundestag chief 
of staff, will become a State Secretary within the MFA to coordinate 
the work of the FDP ministries with the Chancellery.  Westerwelle 
has described Biesel as his closest advisor. 
 
Defense: Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (CSU) 
---------------------------------------- 
 
The CSU's rising star, zu Guttenberg, 37, seemed certain to remain 
in the cabinet.  However, there was speculation that his Economics 
Ministry seat would be up for grabs.  When Economics went to the FDP 
and Finance to Schaeuble, zu Guttenberg's best fit was in Defense. 
The DefMin job gives zu Guttenberg the opportunity to work on 
foreign and security issues again, which was his main area of 
interest as a parliamentarian.  He is seen as a good and capable 
replacement for Jung, who was widely criticized for being overly 
cautious and inarticulate in explaining security and defense issues 
to the German public.  Zu Guttenberg is expected to improve the 
Defense Ministry's image, prestige and weight within the cabinet 
through his popularity and public relations talents.  His 
appointment has already boosted morale among working level officials 
in the MOD, who believe that zu Guttenberg will make MOD a real 
player once again in German security policy debates.  He is a 
transatlanticist and well known in Washington.  He will likely give 
the Defense Ministry a higher profile.  He will retain the current 
Parliamentary State Secretaries Thomas Kossendey (CSU) and Christian 
Schmidt (CSU). 
 
Interior: Thomas de Maiziere (CDU) 
--------------------------------- 
 
De Maiziere, 55, a lawyer, is a confidant of Angela Merkel and has 
served as her chief of staff in the Chancellery for four years.  He 
had been mentioned as a potential finance minister, but reportedly, 
his personal preference was interior.  He brings some experience to 
the job, since he served as state interior minister in Saxony 
2004-2005 and as state minister of justice 2002-2004.  However, some 
of the issues he will face as federal interior minister, namely 
international terrorism, are topics he has less exposure to.  De 
Maiziere is known to be a consensus builder who works the 
interagency process well and is a good problem solver. 
 
 
 
BERLIN 00001360  002.2 OF 004 
 
 
Finance: Wolfgang Schaeuble (CDU) 
--------------------------------- 
 
Merkel wanted a political heavy weight in this difficult position 
during the financial and economic crisis.  Schaeuble, 67, is an 
experienced, strong and well established politician from Germany's 
southwest, who is expected to fill his new role quite well.  He has 
by far the longest federal government experience in Merkel's 
cabinet.  Confined to a wheel chair since he was shot during a 
campaign rally in 1990, the conservative politician from the German 
southwest is not known as a close friend of Chancellor Merkel's.  A 
member of the Bundestag since 1972, he is pragmatic, copes well with 
pressure, and is known for his fierce loyalty.  He does not shy away 
from confrontation and will be ready to pursue unpopular or 
controversial measures.  In light of his age and his political 
standing, he does not have to fear any consequences for his future 
career, which a younger candidate would take into consideration. 
While he had to give up the Interior Ministry (which he reportedly 
liked very much), he is being compensated by running one of the most 
influential ministries in the cabinet.  While he cooperated well 
during the coalition talks, political observers would have expected 
major clashes with FDP Justice Minister Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger 
over domestic security issues if he had remained in the Interior 
Ministry. 
 
Economics and Technology: Rainer Bruederle (FDP) 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
Bruederle, 64, has been deputy caucus chief and economic spokesman 
of the FDP in the Bundestag.  He already served as economic minster 
in Rhineland Palatinate 1987-1998, where he strongly promoted 
wine-growers, trade, and small and midsize business.  Since 1983 he 
has been state chairman of the FDP in Rhineland Palatinate and 
member of the national executive committee and since 1995 deputy 
national party chairman.  Hans-Joachim Otto and Ernst Burgbacher 
(both FDP) will become State Secretaries within that Ministry. 
 
Labor and Social Affairs: Franz-Josef Jung (CDU) 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
Defense Minister Jung, 60, was unexpectedly switched to the Labor 
and Social Affairs ministry.  Jung had fallen victim to much 
criticism during his tenure as Defense Minister and Merkel had been 
pressured to replace him.  Merkel, however, had to find another 
cabinet post for Jung to maintain a proportional regional 
representation in the cabinet - Jung's state of Hesse had to be 
represented.   Another reason for Merkel to keep Jung in the cabinet 
in spite of his weaknesses and previous failures is his loyalty as a 
minister. 
 
Justice: Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP) 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, 58, is FDP chairperson and caucus chief 
in Bavaria.  She successfully ran the 2008 FDP election campaign in 
that state, where the FDP reentered the state parliament after 14 
years of absence.  She was the FDP's chief negotiator on Justice in 
the coalition talks.  She previously served as Justice Minister 
under Chancellor Kohl from 1992-1996, but resigned in opposition to 
legislation allowing electronic eavesdropping of private residences, 
which was planned by her own government.  She has a strong focus on 
civil rights and data protection, and has been critical of what she 
views are overly intrusive wiretapping and other electronic 
surveillance measures (see ref C). 
 
Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women 
and Youth: Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) 
-------------------------------------- 
 
Von der Leyen, 51, a medical doctor and mother of seven, had 
indicated a strong interest in moving to the health portfolio and 
worked out that respective section of the coalition agreement for 
the CDU.  Merkel reportedly was not interested, however, in the CDU 
controlling the health ministry in light of the necessary but 
unpopular reforms and increasing costs of health care for citizens. 
Since the health ministry went to the FDP, von der Leyen will remain 
in her current position. In the past few years, von der Leyen has 
successfully modernized the family policy of the CDU and thus its 
image in this sector.  She is one of Germany's most popular 
politicians according to public opinion polls. 
 
Health: Philipp Roesler (FDP) 
---------------------------- 
 
Roesler, 36, is the youngest member of the cabinet and his 
nomination was a surprise.  He is sharp and dynamic and a rising 
star of the FDP.  He was state secretary general, state party 
chairman and eventually economics minister in Lower-Saxony.  He was 
born in Vietnam and was adopted by a German family.  Both Roesler 
 
BERLIN 00001360  003.2 OF 004 
 
 
and his wife are medical doctors, which gives him some practical 
background for his new portfolio.  Roesler negotiated the health 
section of the coalition agreement for the FDP. 
 
Environment, Nature Conservation and 
Nuclear Safety: Norbert Roettgen (CDU) 
------------------------------------- 
 
Roettgen, 44, a close confidant of Chancellor Merkel had also been 
named as potential chief of staff at the Chancellery.  He has worked 
closely with the Chancellor since her days as caucus chairman 
2002-2005.  Merkel reportedly appreciates his loyalty and analytical 
talents.  During the financial crisis he became one of her closest 
advisors.  While he does not have a reputation for expertise in his 
new portfolio, Merkel obviously wanted to position many of her 
confidants in the new cabinet.  Environmental issues, especially 
climate change, will figure prominently for Merkel. 
 
 
Education and Research: Annette Schavan (CDU) 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
Schavan, 54, will keep her current cabinet position.  Even though 
she did not have a prominent record, as a confidant of Angela 
Merkel, it was assumed that she would stay on as a member of the 
cabinet. 
 
Transportation, Building, and Urban 
Development:  Peter Ramsauer (CSU) 
----------------------------------- 
 
Since November 2005, Ramsauer, 55, has served as head of the CSU 
group in the Bundestag and deputy CDU/CSU caucus chief.  As minister 
for construction, housing and transportation, he will have a huge 
budget to work with. 
 
Food, Agriculture, and Consumer Protection: 
Ilse Aigner (CSU) 
------------------------------------------- 
 
Aigner, 44, only became Minister for Agriculture and Consumer 
Protection in October 2008.  She came to this job as an expert on 
research issues and new to the realities of production agriculture. 
In her tenure, some parts of the German agriculture community have 
been critical of her performance, particularly her close 
relationship to Bavarian Minister President Horst Seehofer. The CSU 
was interested in keeping this portfolio since agriculture continues 
to play an important and tactical role in Bavaria. 
 
Economic Cooperation and Development: Dirk Niebel (FDP) 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
Niebel, 46, has been Secretary General of the FDP since May 2005 and 
belongs to the inner leadership circle of the FDP.  He was named as 
a potential minister since he made strong contributions to the 
electoral success of the FDP.  His actual expertise would have been 
labor and social affairs.  However, that portfolio went to the CDU. 
The FDP sought in the coalition talks to have the Ministry of 
Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) merged with the MFA, but 
failing that, having control of both ministries goes a long way to 
meeting its concern that BMZ development policy be in line with MFA 
priorities, especially on key issues like Afghanistan.  Media 
commentary has focused on Niebel's lack of previous experience in 
development assistance, and how he may essentially serve as a 
department head under Foreign Minister Westerwelle. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
2.  (SBU) With five ministries in the new cabinet, the FDP is 
arguably one of the most powerful junior coalition partners in 
recent German history in terms of both the number and quality of 
their cabinet appointments.  The Greens had three, mostly junior, 
ministries in their coalition with the Social Democrats from 
1998-2005.  The FDP has one more than it had during its last 
coalition with the CDU.  This is due in part to the election outcome 
in which the FDP had its strongest-ever performance, with 14.6 
percent of the vote.  CDU officials also describe the appointments 
as partial compensation for the policy concessions the FDP made 
during coalition negotiations.  The CDU/CSU will have the popular 
and competent Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg as Defense Minister, 
balancing the FDP's control over Foreign Affairs and Development 
Assistance.  Zu Guttenberg -- a strong transatlanticist -- is 
well-connected in Washington and already has a strong background in 
foreign and security policy.  There has been some criticism that the 
new Cabinet does not have any representation from eastern states. 
Merkel responded to the criticism reminding that in fact the 
Chancellor herself counts as representing the East.  End comment. 
 
 
BERLIN 00001360  004.2 OF 004 
 
 
3.  (U) This cable was coordinated with Consulates Frankfurt, 
Leipzig, Munich, Hamburg and Duesseldorf. 
 
Murphy