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Last Updated: Monday, 17 October 2005, 14:50 GMT 15:50 UK
Merkel completes cabinet line-up
Angela Merkel. File photo
Angela Merkel's party won a narrow victory in last month's poll
German Chancellor-designate Angela Merkel has named a set of conservative ministers, completing the line-up of her power-sharing government.

Under the deal, Ms Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their CSU allies get eight posts - the same number as the Social Democrats (SPD).

The move comes as the CDU-CSU and the SPD are starting formal talks on the coalition's common set of policies.

The deal was struck after last month's inconclusive general elections.

KEY CABINET POSTS
Vice Chancellor/Labour: Franz Muentefering, SPD
Foreign Affairs: Frank Walter Steinmeier, SPD
Interior: Wolfgang Schaeuble, CSU
Defence: Franz Josef Jung, CSU
Finance: Peer Steinbrueck, SPD
Economy/Technology: Edmund Stoiber, CSU
Agriculture: Horst Seehofer. CSU
Health: Ulla Schmidt, SPD
The SPD nominated its cabinet members last week.

The ministers can only take up their posts if the coalition talks are successful.

Ms Merkel is calling for flexibility in the negotiations, saying that they could take a month.

She has said cutting unemployment and Germany's huge budget deficit will be priorities.

However, the SPD has said it will resist any dramatic reform of the country's labour markets.

The two parties have already held three rounds of exploratory talks.

'Weak chancellor'

Ms Merkel confirmed the nominations at a news conference in Berlin.

NEW BUNDESTAG
1. Christian Democrats/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU): 226
2. Social Democrats (SPD): 222
3. Free Democrats (FDP): 61
4. Left Party: 54
5. Greens: 51

She named the leader of the powerful state of Bavaria, Edmund Stoiber, to become economy minister. Mr Stoiber also leads the CSU (Christian Social Union).

Among other key posts, former CDU head Wolfgang Schaeuble was chosen to head the interior ministry, while Franz Josef Jung was given the defence portfolio.

Among the nominees is Horst Seehofer - one of Ms Merkel's bitterest political enemies.

Mr Seehofer's nomination as the next agriculture minister was insisted upon by Mr Stoiber, the BBC's Ray Furlong in Germany says.

Monday's announcement underlined how weak a chancellor Ms Merkel may be: hemmed in by rivals from her own side and by the Social Democrats on the other side, our correspondent says.

The SPD announced its list of ministers last week, including party leader Franz Muentefering as vice-chancellor.

The former right-hand man of outgoing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, was given the job of foreign minister.

A key post of finance minister was offered to Peer Steinbrueck, the former premier of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.


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