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Anja Karliczek to Serve as New German Research Minister

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has chosen Germany's next minister for education and research, tapping 46-year-old lawmaker Anja Karliczek to serve in the post, Science reports.

But Karliczek is a relative unknown, even in German political circles, Science says. She will succeed current Minister of Education and Research Johanna Wanka, who announced months ago that she intended to drop out. Hermann Gröhe, who had served as minister of health in the last Cabinet, was seen as a strong contender for the research post, but was shut out of Merkel's fourth Cabinet, Science notes.

Some see this choice from Merkel as sending a signal that science and research are no longer as important to the German government as they ought to be. But others say Karliczek's fresh face is an asset. Science quotes journalist and commentator Jan-Martin Wiarda, who wrote on the website, "Maybe what's needed now is a research minister who, when she meets the science managers of this country, asks them why things have to be done the way they are done now. And whether they couldn't be done completely differently."

Everyone agrees that Karliczek's nomination is a political signal by Merkel, Science notes. All of her new ministers are younger than those picked for previous Cabinets and are split evenly between men and women. Karliczek belongs to the conservative wing of the powerful North Rhine-Westphalia CDU.

Merkel also emphasized that Karliczek went through vocational training, an important pillar of Germany's educational system, twice, Science says.

Merkel's governing coalition has promised an increase of 3 percent per year for research agencies such as the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres and the Max Planck Society, as well as increasing research spending from 2.9 percent of gross domestic product to 3.5 percent, Science adds.