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Women to feature prominently in Germany's new Cabinet

...at least for the social democrats

Monday, December 02, 2013    

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BERLIN, Germany (AFP) — The leader of Germany's Social Democrats yesterday pledged a 50-50 male-female split of the party's cabinet posts in a planned new 'grand coalition' with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, according to a newspaper interview.

Sigmar Gabriel, 54, last week sealed a deal with Merkel to form a left-right government tie-up after five weeks of political wrangling following September elections, but the accord must still be endorsed by his party's membership.

At the Social Democratic Party's (SPD) instigation, portfolios have so far not been publicly announced to allow the more than 470,000-strong rank-and-file, who will begin voting this week, to focus on policy.

Asked in an interview with Sunday's Bild newspaper whether he could promise his party's female contingent that half of the ministries would go to women, Gabriel, who is expected to become Merkel's vice-chancellor, replied: "Yes."

He added that the SPD needed to become more female, although the 150-year-old party had made strides in that direction.

"We had now for the first time in the history of the SPD more women than men in the top party leadership," he said, adding, however: "The SPD must become still more female."

The SPD is expected to get six ministries in the new government.

The party pushed through several of its key demands in the coalition deal, including the creation of a minimum wage and a women's quota for the supervisory boards of listed companies.

Nevertheless the outcome of the SPD members' vote, expected to be known on December 14 or 15, is far from certain because many members reject the notion of their traditionally blue-collar party again governing in the shadow of Merkel, as it last did in 2005-2009.

After that uneasy political marriage, the SPD suffered two humiliating electoral defeats in a row, winning less than 26 per cent against the conservatives' nearly 42 per cent in the September 22 vote.

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