Hannelore Kraft

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Hannelore Kraft
Hannelore Kraft
Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia
Assumed office
14 July 2010
Preceded by Jürgen Rüttgers
President of the German Bundesrat
In office
1 November 2010 – 31 October 2011
Preceded by Jens Böhrnsen
Succeeded by Horst Seehofer
Chairwoman of SPD North Rhine-Westphalia
Assumed office
20 January 2007
Preceded by Jochen Dieckmann
Vice Chairwoman of SPD
with Klaus Wowereit, Manuela Schwesig and Olaf Scholz
Assumed office
13 November 2009
Preceded by Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Peer Steinbrück
Minister for European Affairs of North Rhine-Westphalia
In office
24 April 2001 – 12 November 2002
Minister for Science and Research of North Rhine-Westphalia
In office
12 November 2002 – 31 May 2005
Member of the Landtag of North Rhine-Westphalia
Assumed office
2 June 2000
Personal details
Born Hannelore Külzhammer
(1961-06-12) June 12, 1961 (age 53)
Mülheim an der Ruhr, West Germany
Nationality German
Political party Social Democratic Party
Alma mater Comprehensive University of Duisburg
Religion Lutheranism, former Roman Catholic
Website www.hannelore-kraft.de

Hannelore Kraft (née Külzhammer; born 12 June 1961) is a German politician. She is the leader of the Social Democratic Party in North Rhine-Westphalia and the current Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia. Kraft is the first woman to fill this post since it was created in 1946. She has served on the SPD's federal executive since November 2009, and is one of the four federal deputy chairs.[1] Between 1 November 2010 and 31 October 2011 she was the President of the German Bundesrat after Jens Böhrnsen, again the first woman to hold the office.


Kraft graduated in 1980, and first trained as a bank clerk. She commenced her studies in economics at Comprehensive University of Duisburg in 1982, and studied at King's College London in 1986 and 1987. She completed her studies in Duisburg in 1989.


From 1989 until 2001, she was a consultant and project manager at the Centre for Innovation and Technology (ZENIT GmbH) in Mülheim an der Ruhr, and was head of the local European Info Centre.

In 1994, Kraft joined the SPD, and on 2 June 2000 was elected to the Landtag of North Rhine-Westphalia. Initially representing electoral district 74 (Mülheim II-Essen VII), she switched to electoral district 64 (Mülheim I) in 2005.

On 24 April 2001, she replaced Detlev Samland as Minister for Federal and European Affairs, and then under Minister-President Peer Steinbrück, served from 12 November 2002 until 31 May 2005 as Minister for Science and Research.

After the SPD lost the 2005 state election in North Rhine-Westphalia, Kraft was elected leader of the SPD's parliamentary group with 95.7% of the votes, hence becoming the Opposition Leader in North Rhine-Westphalia. In 2007, she was elected chairperson of the SPD in Northrhine-Westphalia. On 13 November 2009, Kraft was elected as one of the four vice chairs of the federal SPD under chairman Sigmar Gabriel, receiving the highest overall vote. A party congress in February 2010 affirmed that she was the SPD's candidate for Minister-President at the May 2010 state election.[2]

The state election on 9 May 2010 resulted in a near tie with the governing CDU at 67 seats, and with Kraft's preferred red-green coalition one seat short of an overall majority. After many parallel negotiations and various coalitions, Kraft was elected Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia on 14 July 2010 on the second ballot with a sufficient majority of votes, coming from the Social Democrats and Alliance 90/The Greens, while the Left Party abstained. Kraft formed a minority government with ministers of Social Democrats and Greens.[3]

In October 2010, Kraft was elected President of the Bundesrat, according to the customary rotation of the presidency between the Bundesländer. She assumed office on 1 November 2010, becoming the first female office holder, remaining in office until 31 October 2011. In 2012, the minority government collapsed after the three opposition parties blocked the budget. The resulting election saw the SPD-Green coalition win a nine-seat majority and allowed Kraft to remain in office.

Soon after the May 2012 elections, Kraft placed third in a poll among German politicians right after Chancellor Angela Merkel and the new federal president, Joachim Gauck, and ahead of any other politician in the SPD including Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who lost to Merkel in 2009, and party chairman Sigmar Gabriel.[4]


Kraft is married and has one son. She was formerly a Catholic but later converted to Protestantism, joining the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland, a member church of the Evangelical Church in Germany.[5]


  1. ^ spd.de, accessed 10 May 2010 (German)
  2. ^ SPD in NRW feiert ihre Spitzenkandidatin Kraft (SPD in NRW celebrates its top candidate Kraft), Die Welt (online edition), 26 February 2010 (German)
  3. ^ "Kraft ist neue Ministerpräsidentin in NRW", Zeit Online, 07-2010. (German)
  4. ^ Delamaide, Darrell, "Merkel’s Dutch ally feels impact of backlash", MarketWatch, July 5, 2012. Kraft/SPD's strength was put in the context of Dutch Socialist Party leader Emile Roemer's simultaneously growing strength in opposition before September 2012 elections; of Socialist Francois Hollande's May 2012 victory in France; of Radical Left Alexis Tsipras' strength in spring 2012 Greek elections; and of 2013 German national elections. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  5. ^ Dead link at Evangelische Kirche im Rheinland website. http://www.ekir.de/an-der-ruhr/kirchenkreis_52076.php (German)

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Jürgen Rüttgers
Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia
2010 — Present
Succeeded by