Andrea Nahles

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Andrea Nahles
Unterzeichnung des Koalitionsvertrages der 18. Wahlperiode des Bundestages (Martin Rulsch) 110 (cropped).jpg
Minister of Labour and Social Affairs
Assumed office
17 December 2013
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Preceded by Ursula von der Leyen
Secretary-General of the Social Democratic Party
In office
13 November 2009 – 26 January 2014
Preceded by Hubertus Heil
Succeeded by Yasmin Fahimi
Personal details
Born (1970-06-20) 20 June 1970 (age 44)
Mendig, West Germany
(now Germany)
Political party Social Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Marcus Frings
Alma mater University of Bonn
Website Official website

Andrea Maria Nahles (born 20 June 1970 in Mendig, Rhineland-Palatinate) is a German politician, currently Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs (since 2013), a Bundestag representative for the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and former SPD Youth leader. She is known within the party for criticising Gerhard Schröder's Agenda 2010 and is thus identified with the SPD's left wing.

Early life and education[edit]

Nahles finished high school (Abitur) through a continuing education program in 1989. She obtained an MA after studying politics, philosophy and German studies at the University of Bonn for 20 semesters (10 years), during which time she was an assistant to a member of parliament. Since 2004, she is pursuing a doctorate in Germanistics. The title of her dissertation is Walter Scotts Einfluss auf die Entwicklung des historischen Romans in Deutschland (Walter Scott's influence on the development of the historical novel in Germany).

Political career[edit]

Party career[edit]

In 1988, Nahles joined the SPD. Shortly after, she was the youth representative for the constituency of Mayen-Koblenz. From 1993 to 1995 she was the youth representative for Rheinland-Pfalz. In 1995 she became the national youth representative, following Thomas Westphal, a post she held until 1999. Since 1997 she has been a member of the SPD executive.

In 2000, Nahles was one of the founders of the "Forum Demokratische Linke 21" (Forum of the Democratic Left 21). Further, she is a member of IG Metall, Eurosolar and Attac. As leader of the SPD's left wing and former head of party's youth section, she opposed many of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's economic reforms, namely the Agenda 2010.[1] She and others repeatedly criticized the leadership style of the party's chairman Franz Müntefering, saying the party was never consulted over Schröder's decision in May 2005 to call early elections or the decision to join a grand coalition under Merkel that would include the major parties.[2]

As party leaders sought to reconcile the bickering factions in the post-Schröder era, Nahles gained in leverage.[3] On 31 October 2005, she was voted the SPD's general secretary, defeating Kajo Wasserhövel, the favoured man from the conservative side of the party. Wasserhövel's defeat prompted Franz Müntefering to declare that he no longer feels he has the confidence of the party and will step down. As a result, Nahles refused to accept the position of general secretary.

Secretary General of the SPD, 2009-2013[edit]

Nahles was elected as the SPD's secretary general in November 2009 at the party congress held in Dresden.[4][5] She succeeded Hubertus Heil in the position, and worked together with new-elected party chairman Sigmar Gabriel. Her appointment was widely seen as a signal the SPD would shift to the left.[6]

In her capacity as secretary general, Nahles oversaw the SPD’s electoral campaign in 2013.[7] After the SPD's defeat in the federal elections, she was in charge of organizing a referendum among her party's 472,000 members before signing any coalition treaty with re-elected Chancellor Angela Merkel and her conservative bloc.

At a three-day party convention held in Leipzig in November 2013, delegates re-elected Nahles to her post with reduced majority. She received 67.2 percent of members’ ballots.[8]

Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, 2013–present[edit]

As Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs in Chancellor Angela Merkel's third Cabinet, Nahles has overseen the introduction of a national minimum wage for Germany, guaranteeing workers at least 8.50 euros per hour ($11.75).[9] Merkel had campaigned against a statutory minimum wage in 2013, saying it would threaten Germany’s competitive edge and that wage-setting belonged in the hands of companies and employees; however, her party gave ground to the Social Democrats, who made the measure a condition for helping her stay in power for a third term.[10]

After having campaigned on the promise of early retirement for longtime workers during the elections, Nahles also managed the introduction of an early retirement law in 2014. The move, which – at expected total costs of about 160 billion euros between 2015 and 2030[11] – is likely to be the most expensive single measure of the legislative period,[12] was sharply criticized as Germany grapples with an aging population and a shrinking work force and promotes austerity among its European Union neighbors.[13]

Following annual negotiations between the Claims Conference and the German government in 2014, Nahles successfully introduced a proposal for extending German pension payments totaling 340 million euros ($461 million) for some 40,000 Holocaust survivors who were used by the Nazis in ghettos as laborers in exchange for food or meager wages. Most Holocaust survivors suffered serious malnutrition during World War II and also lost almost all of their relatives, leaving them with many medical problems and little or no family support network to help them cope.[14]

Other activities[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Nahles is married to Marcus Frings and has one daughter.[15]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Hubertus Heil
Secretary-General of the Social Democratic Party
Succeeded by
Yasmin Fahimi
Political offices
Preceded by
Ursula von der Leyen
Minister of Labour and Social Affairs