Merkel ready to name ministers for seats in power-sharing Cabinet

Ms Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and its Bavaria-only sister party, the Christian Social Union, are to get six ministries under a preliminary power-sharing deal reached last week with the centre-left Social Democrats.

The CSU leader Edmund Stoiber has said he will become economy minister. Ms Merkel wants to announce the conservatives' nominations before formal coalition talks open this afternoon. They will hold the interior, defence, education, economy, family and agriculture ministries and Ms Merkel and her chief of staff will also have Cabinet seats.

Conservative lawmaker Horst Seehofer said he will be nominated as Germany's minister for agriculture and consumer protection. He was health minister under former Chancellor Helmut Kohl and opposes radical economic reform.

Christian Wulff, the CDU governor of Lower Saxony, refused to give any names, but told n-tv television the conservatives would present "experienced and new faces, a good mixture".

Franz Josef Jung, a senior CDU figure, has been tipped for the defence minister's job. But Wolfgang Schaeuble, who served as interior minister under Kohl, has emerged in German media as a strong favourite to retake the ministry and become the country's top security official.

Mr Schröder's Social Democrats last week named their choices for the eight ministers in the new government. They include Schröder's chief of staff, Frank Walter Steinmeier, as foreign minister, and Peer Steinbrueck, a respected former state governor, as finance minister.

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