The Federal Cabinet

The 24th Federal Cabinet, formed in March 2018 following the coalition negotiations after the 2017 election, is composed of 16 politicians – 6 from the CDU, 3 from the CSU and 6 from the SPD. Of these, 9 are men and 7 women. Only two ministers (Merkel and Giffey) come from East German states.

The Cabinet is one of the five “constitutional bodies” in Germany – the Bundestag and Bundesrat have responsibility for legislation, the Federal Constitutional Court has responsibility for supreme court decisions and the Federal President and the Federal Cabinet have responsibility for executive tasks.

Chancellor: Angela Merkel (CDU)

Germany’s ‘Mutti’ has been an Member of parliament since 1990  and Chancellor since 2005. Until she resigned the position in November 2018, she was also Chair of the CDU.

Merkel was brought up in the communist GDR and studied quantum chemistry before workings a research scientist until 1989. She was elected to the Bundestag in 1990.

Her first government 2005-9 was a CDU/CSU coalition with the SPD, her second 2009 – 2013 with the  FDP,  and her third 2013 – 2018 and fourth (2018 – present) with the SPD again.

Merkel will step down as Chancellor at the next election in 2021. 
Finance Minister and Vice Chancellor: Olaf Scholz (SPD)

A lawyer specialising in labour law, Scholz was first elected as an MP in 1998 and was General Secretary of the party from 2002 – 2004.  He was Minister of Labour and Social Affairs  2007 – 9 in Merkel’s first grand coalition government, and then became Mayor of Hamburg from 2011 until March 2018, when he became Federal Finance Minister.

Scholz is not currently a member of parliament, but is seeking a seat in Potsdam for the 2021 election.

He is reported to be considering standing to be the SPD candidate for the 2021 election.
Minister of the Interior, Building and Community: Horst Seehofer (CSU)

Seehofer was leader of the CDU’s sister party in Bavaria, the CSU, from 2008 to 201 2008 to 2018. He was an MP from 1980 to 2008 and served as Minister for Health and Social Security and Minister for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection.
In 2008 he became Chair of the CSU and was Minister President of Bavaria until 2018. In March 2018, he became Interior Minister in Merkel’s third government.
A controversial figure known for right-wing policies on law and order and immigration, Seehofer threatened to resign over Merkel’s asylum and policy in the summer of 2018 and has said that ‘Islam does not belong to Germany’ and ‘migration is the mother of all problems.’
Minister for Foreign Affairs: Heiko Maas (SPD)

A lawyer from Saarland on the French border, Maas has been Federal Foreign Minister since 2018.

He has been a member of the Saarland Parliament since 1994 and was leader of the SPD in Saarland from 2010 to 2018.

In 2013, Maas became Minister for Economic Affairs, Labour, Energy and Transport in Merkel’s third coalition government, and from 2013 – 2018 he was Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, a post he used to combat the growth of the far-right in Germany.

Like many Saarlanders, Maas is a supporters of European integration and a strong Franco-German relationship.
Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy: Peter Altmaier (CDU)

Also a lawyer from Saarland, Altmaier has been a member of the Bundestag since 1994. He was Chief Whip from 2009 – 2012 and then Minister for the Environment 2012-2013. Following the 2013 election, as a close ally of Angela Merkel who supported her moving the CDU towards the centre, he became Head of the Chancellery and in 2018, he took on his present post.

Altmaier is a passionate pro-European and also a supporter of liberal causes such as gay marriage.

With Olaf Scholz, Altmaier has played a key role in the measures to support the economy through the Covid-19 crisis.
Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection: Christine Lambrecht (SPD)

A lawyer from Mannheim in Baden-Württemberg, Lambrecht has been a MP since 1998. Her work in the Bundestag has been strongly focused on legal affairs. She has served on the Committee on Legal Affairs, and on the parliamentary body in charge of appointing judges to the Highest Courts of Justice. In 2009 she became the SPD’s spokesperson in legal affairs.

In 2013, she became Chief Whip and in 2019, following Justice Minister Katarina Barley’s election to the European Parliament, she became Minister for Justice and Consumer Protection.

Lambrecht has been instrumental in steering though Germany’s new anti-hate law as well as making upskiritng illegal and planning to increase penalties for sexual violence against children.
Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs: Hubertus Heil (SPD)

Heil was brought up in Lower Saxony. After studying political science and sociology, he worked as a political assistant before becoming an MP in 1998. He was General Secretary of the Party from 2005 to 2009, and for a short period during 2017, and has been Employment Minister since 2018. 
As Employment Minister, Heil clearly sees his task as winning back voters from the the SPD’s traditional base and he has been instrumental in several key policies including a rise in the minimum wage, improvements in employment law and a basic pension. During the Covid-19 crisis he has with Olaf Scholz overseen many measures to hope workers including an increase in short money for furloughed workers.
Minister of Defence: Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU)

Known as AKK, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was elected as Merkel’s successor as General Secretary of the CDU in December 2018, fighting off challenges from two right-wingers, Friedrich Merz and Jens Spahn.  She has been Minister of Defence since July 2019, following Ursula von der Leyen’s appointment as European Commission President.

AKK was born in Saarland and studied politics and law at university.  In 1984 and from 1999 to 2018 she was a member of the Saarland state parliament.  She became the first woman to serve as state minister for internal affairs in 2000 and the first woman to serve as prime minster of Saarland in 2011-  2018.    In March 2017, she led the CDU to a convincing victory in the Saarland state election.

In Feb 2020, following poor CDU’ results in a European election in May 2019 and in state elections, and a series of gaffes, AKK announced she would step down as leader.
Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture: Julia Klöckner (CDU)

Klöckner comes from Rhineland-Palatinate and studied  political sciences, theology and education at university. Klöckner has been described ‘Mutti’s most beautiful’ and been talked of as a possible future leader.

She was a member of the Bundestag from 2002 – 2011 and became Parliamentary State Secretary to the Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection in 2009.

In 2011 she was elected as a member of the Rhineland-Palatinate parliament and became Chair of the CDU in Rhineland-Palatinate and Chair of the CDU parliamentary group. She has been Vice Chairof the CDU since 2012 and Minister of Food and Agriculture since 2018.

Klöckner has been criticised several times for appearing to have endorsed food products and for not having addressed issues in meat production.
Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth: Franziska Giffey (SPD)

Giffey has been Minister for Family Affairs since 2018 and has developed the the government’s first federal, cross-departmental equality strategy, which has targets to get more women into leadership roles, reduce the gender pay gap and improve work-life balance.

Giffey comes from Brandenburg and studied in Berlin, where she gained an MA in public administration followed by a PhD in political science. She joined the SPD in 2007 and became a councillor in Berlin. She was
Mayor of Berlin-Neukölln from 2015 – 2018.

Giffey will probably be the candidate to succeed Berlin’s current mayor Michael Müller after the next Berlin election in 2021.
Federal Minister of Health: Jens Spahn (CDU)

Spahn is from North-Rhine Westphalia and worked as a banker until he was elected to the Bundestag as the youngest member at the age of 22 in 2002.  He later studied for  and obtained an MA in politics.  He joined the party health committee, becoming chair in 2009, and was elected to the CDU party executive in 2014.
In 2015 he became deputy finance minister and severely criticised Merkel’s decision to open Germany’s borders to refugees. He was made health minister in February 2018 and has led a very active department. Spahn’s popularity rose during the corona pandemic and he won praise for is handling of the crisis.
Spahn is a hope bearer for the right of the party and stood to be leader in December 2018, coming in third place. In February 2020, he announced that he would be standing as Armin Laschet’s deputy in the leadership contest.
Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure: Andreas Scheuer (CSU)

Scheuer studied teaching and then an MA in political science, economics and sociology, after which he went into politics in his native Passau in Bavaria.

He was Secretary General of the CSU from 2013 – 2018 and became Transport Minister in 2018. Like Seehofer, Scheuer challenged Merkel’s refugee policy in 2016 and demanded that immigrants acknowledge German leading culture.

Scheuer has been heavily criticised for a failed road tax plan for foreigners which is costing the government millions.
Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety: Svenja Schulze (SPD)

Schulze comes from North-Rhine Westphalia and studied German literature and political science. She was a member of the NRW parliament 1997 – 2000 and 2004 – 2018. From 2010 – 2017 she was Minister for Innovation, Science and Research in NRW and Secretary General of the NRW SPD from 2017 -2018.

She was appointed Minister for the environment in 2018. She has announced major measures to combat climate change and overseen legislation necessary for the phase-out of coal by 2038.
Minister of Education and Research: Anja Karliczek (CDU)

From North-Rhine Westphalia, Karliczek trained in hotel management and then studied business administration. She was a city councillor 2004 – 2014 and has been a member of the Bundestag since 2013. She was Parliamentary Secretary of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the German Bundestag and has been Minister of Education and Research since 2018.

Karliczek has called for language testing for kindergarten children and oversaw the return to schools of all school children in May and June as part of the corona virus exit strategy. She was criticised for failing to hope students who lost their jobs.
Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development: Gerd Müller (CSU)

Müller studied Pedagogy and Political and Economic Sciences and achieved a PhD. He was a local councillor 1978 -1988 in Bavaria before going on to work in Bavarian Ministry of Economics and Transport 1980 – 1989. He was an MEP 1989 – 1994, and has been an MP since 1994. Müller has been Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development since 2013.
Like his CSU colleagues, Müller challenged Merel’s asylum policy and in 2015 published a CSU paper proposing tougher rules for asylum seekers.
Müller has announced a restructuring of Germany’s foreign aid, limiting its partner list to 60 nations and dropping Burundi and Myanmar. He said the criteria to take countries off the list will be corruption, rights abuses and poor governance.
Head of the Federal Chancellery and Federal Minister for Special Tasks: Helge Braun (CDU)

Born in Hesse, Braun studied medicine before going on to become a local councillor in his native town of Gießen. From 2001-2009 he worked at the University Hospital of Gießen and Marburg and finished his training as an anesthetist in 2007.

He was an MP from 2002 – 2005, and returned to the Bundestag in 2009. Prior to becoming Head of the Chancellor, he was State Minister to the Federal Chancellor 2013 – 2018.

As Merkel’s Chief of Staff, Braun’s job is to coordinate the work of the government and he is known to have an the ability to mediate and resolve conflicts.
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Federal Chancellor website in English

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Federal Minister of the Interior website in English.

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