March 2, 2011 / 3:06 PM / 9 years ago

PENPIX-German ministers in cabinet reshuffle

BERLIN, March 2 (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel replaced Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg with Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, she said on Wednesday.

Hans-Peter Friedrich, the parliamentary leader for the Christian Social Union (CSU), will succeed de Maiziere as interior minister.

Following are portraits of de Maiziere and Friedrich, both of whom are viewed as Merkel loyalists:


De Maiziere is known for his discretion, pragmatism and behind-the-scenes, deal-making skills. He was her chief of staff from 2005 to 2009 before taking over the Interior Ministry.

De Maiziere, a cousin of the former East Germany’s last prime minister, Lothar de Maiziere, has government experience in the west and east of the country. His father, Ulrich de Maiziere, was head of the West German military from 1966 to 1972.

De Maiziere comes from a family of Huguenots who fled France for Prussia in the 17th century.

He was part of a Western delegation involved in the negotiations on German unification after the Berlin Wall fell 21 years ago and served as minister for finance, justice and interior in the eastern state of Saxony before Merkel named him to run her office in 2005.

As Interior Minister, de Maiziere had long played down security worries but abruptly changed course in November with warnings there were “serious indications” of terror attacks being prepared in Europe and the United States.

Last year de Maiziere became a crime victim himself. A car belonging to him, which was being used by his daughter at the time, was stolen in the eastern city of Dresden but the thief was caught the next day.


The parliamentary floor leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), has close ties to the CSU leadership in Munich as well as a well established network of contacts in Berlin.

He also played a behind-the-scenes part in crafting Germany’s response to the euro zone crisis.

A quick-witted public speaker and trained lawyer, he has expertise on transport issues and has led the CSU in parliament since 2009.

Friedrich, like Guttenberg, comes over well on television. The fact that both men come from the northern Bavarian area of Upper Franconia means Friedrich’s appointment will ensure the regional balance of power within the CSU is maintained.

Unlike many in the CSU who prefer to stay in Catholic-dominated Bavaria, Friedrich, a Protestant, has spent much of his career at the federal level in Bonn and Berlin.

He enjoys a good relationship with Merkel and has often sided with national interests over Bavarian ones. Earlier in his career, Friedrich worked in the economy ministry and the economy department of the Germany Embassy in Washington (1990-91).

Economic policy is seen as his passion as he has supported raising the retirement age to 67 despite opposition from CSU leader Horst Seehofer.

He worked as a CSU aide in parliament for seven years before becoming an MP in 1998. He replaced current transport minister Peter Ramsauer as CSU parliamentary floor leader in 2009.

Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum and Eric Kelsey; editing by John Stonestreet and Michael Roddy

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