Peer Steinbrück

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Peer Steinbrück
Dts news streinbrueck wikipedia.JPG
Minister of Finance
In office
22 November 2005 – 28 October 2009
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Preceded by Hans Eichel
Succeeded by Wolfgang Schäuble
Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia
In office
6 November 2002 – 24 June 2005
Preceded by Wolfgang Clement
Succeeded by Jürgen Rüttgers
Personal details
Born (1947-01-10) 10 January 1947 (age 67)
Hamburg, West Germany
(now Germany)
Political party Social Democratic Party
Alma mater University of Kiel

Peer Steinbrück (born 10 January 1947) is a German social democratic (SPD) politician. He was the SPD candidate for Chancellor of Germany in the 2013 federal election. From 2005 to 2009 he served as German Federal Minister of Finance in the cabinet of Angela Merkel. He was nominated by his party as opposition candidate for Chancellor on 28 September 2012.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Steinbrück was born in Hamburg, on 10 January 1947, to Ernst Steinbrück (1914–1998), an architect born in Danzig, and Ilse née Schaper (1919–2011). After having been trained as an officer of the reserve of the Bundeswehr, Steinbrück studied economics at the University of Kiel. He graduated in 1974.


After graduation Steinbrück worked for several German ministries and, from 1978 to 1981, in the office of German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. In the 1980s, Steinbrück was the chief of staff to the Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia, Johannes Rau.

In 1993, he became the minister of economy and infrastructure in the state of Schleswig-Holstein. He then returned to North Rhine-Westphalia, where he became the minister of economy and infrastructure in 1998 and finance minister in 2000.

From 2002 to 2005 Steinbrück served as Minister President (Ministerpräsident or governor) of North Rhine-Westphalia.[2] He headed a coalition government between the SPD and the Green Party.

In the state election on 22 May 2005, Steinbrück's SPD lost to the Christian democratic (CDU) opposition. This loss also had consequences for federal politics: then German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who already was enfeebled by weak opinion polls and criticism within his own party, announced plans to call an early federal election for the Bundestag. This ultimately resulted in the 2005 federal election.

After the 2005 Bundestag election, SPD and CDU formed a grand coalition under the leadership of new Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU). Peer Steinbrück became finance minister of Germany in November 2005.[3] Since 2005, he also has been deputy chairman of the SPD. He is generally considered a member of the more conservative wing of the party.

In December 2008, Steinbrück controversially attacked the British Keynesian approach to economic policy in an interview with Newsweek.[4] He raised scepticism about the effectiveness of large fiscal stimulus packages and criticised the resulting increase in public debt.

Steinbrück was also a sharp critic of the Swiss banking secrecy, which in 2009 caused some tensions between Germany and Switzerland.[5]

In a 2010 interview on German television, it appeared that the former minister, who had adopted a very critical stance of the shadow banking system, attributed characteristics of the private equity industry to hedge funds.[6] Steinbrück has served as a member of Parliament (Bundestag) since 2009. He has been a prominent speaker for the SPD, especially on economic matters.

On 9 December 2012 an extraordinary National Assembly of the SPD elected Steinbrück, with 93.45% of the votes, as candidate for Federal Chancellor, to run in the 2013 federal elections against Angela Merkel.

Controversy over Italian election comment[edit]

On 26 February 2013 Steinbrück said he was "appalled that two clowns have won" Italy's February 24–25 election. The vote was actually inconclusive with no party garnering a majority in parliament, although the anti-establishment party of commentator and comedian Beppe Grillo surged to about one fourth of valid votes. In reaction, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano cancelled a dinner in Berlin with Steinbrück, who was German opposition's chancellor candidate.[7] President Napolitano, an 87-year-old former Italian communist-party representative with no natural affinity for Berlusconi or Grillo, made clear that such a comment was disrespectful towards Italian electors and that he was finding the sentences "out of place".[8] As Italy's president, he had the duty to nominate a new government and, because of the electoral results, he had necessarily to keep relationships with both Grillo and Berlusconi.


  1. ^ Melissa Eddy: Merkel's Former Finance Minister to Run Against Her. Retrieved 22 September 2012
  2. ^ Moulson, Geir (28 September 2012). "Peer Steinbrueck, Former Finance Minister, To Challenge German Chancellor Angela Merkel In 2013". The Huffington Post. AP. Retrieved 28 September 2012. 
  3. ^ Bernstein, Richard (23 November 2005). "Merkel Takes Office in Germany and Announces Coalition Cabinet". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "German ridicule for UK policies". BBC News. 10 December 2008. Retrieved 10 December 2008. 
  5. ^ "Germany's Wild West Tone Angers the Swiss". Spiegel Online. Retrieved 12 July 2009. 
  6. ^ "Broadcast of interview on Beckmann". ARD (broadcaster). Retrieved 19 February 2011. 
  7. ^ "Italy president snubs German candidate over clown gaffe". Reuters. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  8. ^ "Steinbrück Raises Ire of German Clowns". Retrieved 14 August 2013. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Uwe Thomas
Minister of Economy of Schleswig-Holstein
Succeeded by
Horst Günter Bülck
Preceded by
Bodo Hombach
Minister of Economy of North Rhine-Westphalia
Succeeded by
Ernst Schwanhold
Preceded by
Heinz Schleußer
Minister of Finance of North Rhine-Westphalia
Succeeded by
Jochen Dieckmann
Preceded by
Wolfgang Clement
Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia
Succeeded by
Jürgen Rüttgers
Preceded by
Hans Eichel
Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Wolfgang Schäuble