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Merkel's cabinet takes shape - who's in and out at Germany's ministries

Shifting responsibilities

There are five "classic ministries" in Germany's government – Finance, Foreign, Interior, Justice and Defense. Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) are ceding direct control of two of them. One, finance, is to change from right to left of the political divide, moving from CDU to Social Democrat (SPD) hands. Other switches are likely in less prominent portfolios.

Merkel's cabinet takes shape - who's in and out at Germany's ministries

Major prize changes hands

The transfer of the Finance Ministry from CDU hands to the SPD is the biggest surprise of the deal. The minister plays a major role at the European level as evidenced by the CDU’s Wolfgang Schäuble during the eurozone sovereign debt crisis. Hamburg Mayor Olaf Scholz, a centrist within the SPD, will likely get the title of deputy chancellor in addition to finance minister.

Merkel's cabinet takes shape - who's in and out at Germany's ministries

Bavaria to take home ministry

The Interior Ministry, which deals with law and order within Germany, looks set to stay in the hands of Merkel’s conservatives, but not her own CDU. Touted for the position is the leader of Bavarian sister party the CSU, Horst Seehofer (left). The Bavarian party has taken a tougher line than Merkel on immigration. The conservatives suffered losses to the far-right AfD in September's election.

Merkel's cabinet takes shape - who's in and out at Germany's ministries

Who will be Germany's top diplomat?

Under the deal, the SPD will keep control of the Foreign Ministry. Since 1966, the ministry has been run by a member of smaller coalition partners. Sigmar Gabriel has been in the role in a caretaker capacity since Frank-Walter Steinmeier was elected president. Martin Schulz (above), a former leader of the European Parliament, was expected to take over but pulled out in a bid to quell party unrest.

Merkel's cabinet takes shape - who's in and out at Germany's ministries

Growing profile of defense

The CDU’s Ursula von der Leyen, a key ally of Merkel who is thought to have her own ambitions to become chancellor, is likely to remain in her role at the helm of the Defense Ministry. The ministry has had a growing importance in recent decades as Germany became more involved in foreign military operations. In particular, the Bundeswehr maintains a significant deployment of troops in Afghanistan.

Merkel's cabinet takes shape - who's in and out at Germany's ministries

Justice unlikely to change hands

Typically a portfolio that goes to the junior coalition partner, responsibility for the Justice Ministry may well stay with the current incumbent — the SPD’s Heiko Maas. While individual states in Germany are generally responsible for the administration of justice, the federal ministry is charged with making and changing constitution-related laws. It also analyzes laws made by other ministries.

Merkel's cabinet takes shape - who's in and out at Germany's ministries

Economic compensation

Helping to make up for the CDU losing two major offices, the CDU will get its hands on the Economy Ministry, also responsible for energy policy. Merkel's right hand in the chancellery Peter Altmaier (pictured) — who has also been running the Finance Ministry since the departure of Wolfgang Schäuble — is expected to take over from the SPD's Brigitte Zypries.

Merkel's cabinet takes shape - who's in and out at Germany's ministries

New girl on the block

The favorite to take over at the top of the Ministry of Agriculture is the CDU’s Julia Klöckner, who leads the party in the western state of Rhineland Palatinate. Having twice failed in her bid to become state premier there, she'll be one of the relatively rare new faces in Berlin.

Merkel's cabinet takes shape - who's in and out at Germany's ministries

Change of track

The CSU will also retain the Transport Ministry with CSU Secretary-General Andreas Scheuer, from Lower Bavaria, taking charge. He’d also be responsible for digital infrastructure. The party will hold onto the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, with undersecretary in the Transport Ministry Dorothee Bär set to take the reins from current Development Minister Gerd Müller.

Merkel's cabinet takes shape - who's in and out at Germany's ministries

Health in same party hands

The Health Ministry remains a CDU concern, with Annette Widmann-Mauz, an undersecretary in the ministry from Baden Württemberg, expected to take over. She’d replace fellow CDU member Hermann Gröhe, who is touted to head up the Federal Ministry for Education and Research.

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