26, February 2018
German chancellor Angela Merkel has named a key opponent of her centrist ideas as a minister in her cabinet for a fourth term in office.
Merkel said she would appoint Jens Spahn as health minister in her new government if a coalition deal with center-left Social Democrats (SPD) is finalized.
The 37-year-old Spahn, a leading advocate of sharper conservative profile, is known for his fierce criticism of Merkel’s moderate centrist approach, especially the one Merkel applied in talks with the SPD to reach a coalition deal.
Merkel hopes a congress of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) would on Monday sign off on the deal with the SPD which should also pass the major hurdle of gaining the approval of the congress of SPD members on March 4 before it goes into action.
Senior figures from Merkel’s CDU hailed the chancellor’s decision to include people like Spahn in a future cabinet, saying it was a sign Merkel had a desire to tolerate critics in her fourth term in office.
“It’s a good sign because he is a dedicated politician who has shown for years that he is acting in the interests of this country … He will certainly be a good health minister,” said Michael Kretschmer, a member of the CDU’s right wing and leader of Germany’s state of Saxony.
In a bid to quell surging discontent in the right wing of the CDU ahead of the Monday congress, Merkel also appointed newcomers like 45-year-old Julia Kloeckner as agriculture minister; 46-year-old Anja Karliczek as education minister and 45-year-old Helge Braun as her new chief of staff.
However, Merkel stood firm with loyalists like Ursula von der Leyen, the mother of seven who would be reappointed as defense minister and also close ally Peter Altmaier who would serve as minister of economy.
Based on the coalition deal reached this month, Merkel and the CDU would have six positions to fill in the future cabinet as she should relinquish the influential portfolio of finance ministry to the SPD.