Rudolf Scharping

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Rudolf Scharping in 2005

Rudolf Scharping (born 2 December 1947) is a German politician (SPD)and sports official. He was from 1991 to 1994 Minister of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate and 1998-2002 Federal Minister of Defence . From 1993 to 1995 he was also the national chairman of the SPD. In the Bundestag election in 1994 he was candidate for chancellor . From March 1995 to May 2001 he served as Chairman of the Party Party of European Socialists (PES) .

Early Life[edit]

Scharping was born in Niederelbert. He studied politics, sociology and law at the University of Bonn. He joined the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in 1966.

Political Career[edit]

He was Member of the Rhineland-Palatine Parliament from 1975 to 1994. From 21 May 1991 to 15 October 1994 he was prime minister of the state. In 1994 he ran as the SPD's candidate for German chancellor against Helmut Kohl (CDU), lost, and became leader of the opposition. His successor for the prime minister post is Kurt Beck.From 1993 to 1995, Scharping was chairman of the SPD, succeeding Björn Engholm. He was then defeated by Oskar Lafontaine in an upset vote at the federal party convent at Mannheim. He was elected as one of five vice chairmen in the same year and re-elected in 1997, 1999 and 2001. He has been member of the Bundestag since 1994. He led the SPD parliamentary group from 1994 to 1998.


From 27 October 1998 to 18 July 2002 he served as Germany's Minister of Defence. In his period of office, the German Bundeswehr participated for the first time since 1945 in a War outside Germany in former Yugoslavia.

Scharping was unseated shortly before the Bundestag elections in 2002, due to several political affairs. In the so-called Majorca Affair he had his picture taken in the swimming pool in company of his girlfriend Kristina Countess Pilati while the Bundeswehr was about to begin a difficult mission in Republic of Macedonia.[1] The Moritz Hunzinger Affair was also related to him. Following his dismissal as Minister of Defense, he withdrew his candidacy for reelection as vice chairman as his chances were meagre. His successor was once again Kurt Beck. He did not resign his Bundestag seat but did not run again in the 2005 general elections.


After his political career, he became the chairman of the German cycling association, because he is an active cycling enthusiast.

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Political offices
Preceded by
Carl-Ludwig Wagner
Minister-President of Rhineland-Palatinate
1991–1994
Succeeded by
Kurt Beck
Preceded by
Volker Rühe
Federal Minister of Defence (Germany)
1998–2002
Succeeded by
Peter Struck
Party political offices
Preceded by
Björn Engholm
Chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany
1993–1995
Succeeded by
Oskar Lafontaine