Christian Wulff

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Christian Wulff
Landtag Niedersachsen DSCF7769.JPG
Christian Wulff in 2008
President of Germany
Assuming office
2 July 2010[1]
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Succeeding Horst Köhler
Prime Minister of Lower Saxony
In office
4 March 2003 – 30 June 2010
Preceded by Sigmar Gabriel
Succeeded by David McAllister (designate)
Personal details
Born (1959-06-19) 19 June 1959 (age 59)
Osnabrück, Germany
Nationality German
Political party CDU
Alma mater University of Osnabrück
Profession Lawyer
Website christian-wulff.de

Christian Wilhelm Walter Wulff (born 19 June 1959) is a German politician of the conservative Christian Democratic Union. He was elected President of Germany on 30 June 2010, and will be sworn in on 2 July.[1] A lawyer by profession, he served as Prime Minister of the state of Lower Saxony between 2003 and 2010. David McAllister is designated by his party to succeed him as Prime Minister. Wulff is Germany's first Roman Catholic President in more than forty years.

Education and early years

Wulff was born in Osnabrück and is Roman Catholic. His father left the family, and he grew up with his mother. As a teenager, he had to take responsibility for the care of his younger sister, after his mother developed multiple sclerosis.[2] After completing his Abitur at the Ernst Moritz Arndt Gymnasium in Osnabrück, Wulff went to study law with a specialisation in economics at the University of Osnabrück. In 1987 and 1990, he passed the first and second state examinations in law, and has since worked as an attorney.

Political career

Since 1975, Wulff has been a member of the CDU. From 1978 to 1980, he served as federal chairman of the Schülerunion, a political high school student organization affiliated with the Christian Democrats. From 1979 to 1983, he was on the executive board of the Junge Union and became its regional chairman in Lower Saxony in 1983. However, he decided to resign from the board in order to pursue his law degree, which he completed in 1986. The same year, he was elected a city councillor in his hometown. Since 1984, he has sat on the CDU's regional party council of Lower Saxony, serving as its chairman since 1994.

The Christian Democrats made Wulff candidate for state Premier in the run-up of the 1994 Legislative Assembly elections. However, the popular incumbent Gerhard Schröder won and secured an absolute majority in the Lower Saxony legislature, leading some observers to doubt the wisdom of the provincial party nominating a young and neophyte candidate for Premier. After four years in opposition, the 1998 legislative assembly election brought another opportunity for Wulff to become prime minister. Indeed, the federal Christian Democrat party, led by Chancellor Helmut Kohl, pinned their hopes on Wulff - a Wulff victory would have stopped the inevitable rise of Schröder to the Social Democrat nomination for Chancellor. However, supported by a wave of sympathy for his candidacy for chancellor in the 1998 federal election, Schröder was returned to power by an enhanced majority - leaving Wulff to serve five more years as provincial leader of the opposition.

Schröder won the 1998 federal election, leaving the premiership to his anointed successor, Interior minister Gerhard Glogowski. The latter soon stumbled over a scandal involving free travel paid by TUI and was succeeded by Sigmar Gabriel. In the wake of the 1999 scandal, as well as rising discontent with Schröder's federal cabinet, the Christian Democrats rose in the opinion polls and became a serious contender for power in the 2003 assembly election.

Wulff has been one of the four deputy chairmen of the CDU party at the federal level since 7 November 1998, and has been a board member of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation since 2003.

2003 state election

With Lower Saxony announcing deeper cuts of education and municipal services, the stage was set for the 2003 election campaign. Wulff entered the race as the favourite to win the election and essentially campaigned on a platform of fiscal restraint and clear-cut reforms in the areas of law enforcement and education. Both issues were decisive in the assembly elections that led to a change in fortunes for the two major parties. The Christian Democrats, in the political wilderness since the 1990 Schröder victory, were returned to power in the Legislative Assembly, gaining 48.3 % of the vote. Wulff was sworn in as Prime Minister on 4 March 2003, as the head of a coalition between centre-right Christian Democrats and liberal Free Democrats (FDP).

Policies

As Premier, Wulff has pursued a multitude of reforms, including a restructuring of the primary education system in Lower Saxony, as well as an increase of police officers on the beat. When Wulff took office, Lower Saxony faced a severe budget crisis, resulting from years of public deficits. Painful cuts to public expenditure were enacted and implemented against considerable political resistance. The measures included cuts in university funding and in benefits for the blind. Other policies concern the reform of the administration (especially the abolition of certain district authorities). Budgetary problems have continued to overshadow Wulff's policies, albeit with somewhat less pressure. Many measures have remained controversial.

Prior to the 2005 Federal Election, Wulff had been mentioned as a potential candidate for the German chancellorship. Surprisingly, in a spring 2005 poll, 28 percent of all respondents named Wulff as their preferred candidate for the Christian Democrat nomination for Chancellor in the 2006 election.[3] As Wulff only began his first term as Premier in early 2003, he is likely to dismiss such speculations.[4] Speculation had particularly increased since the December 2004 Christian Democrat federal convention in Düsseldorf, when Wulff was re-elected deputy leader of the federal party with roughly 86 per cent of all delegates supporting him. However, the premature dissolution of the Bundestag in 2005 and the subsequent election of Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel has largely put an end to further speculation about Wulff's future.

A Wulff candidacy for the CDU nomination for Chancellor may have been appealing to northerners and liberals within the Christian Democrats. Outside the mold of a typical conservative, he may have been able to attract swing voters disillusioned with the slowness of reforms, as well as the rather high rates of unemployment in Germany. Indeed, at the moment, the premier is working on increasing his visibility beyond Lower Saxony's confines, particularly by appearing frequently on TV shows and giving interviews to the national newspapers. Moreover, Wulff is also acquiring a profile on a broad range of issues, including the reform of the German language, Medicare and social security reform, as well as a modernisation of Germany's federal constitution, the Grundgesetz.[5] In fact, the Premier recently criticised the consensus reached between the Christian Democrat and Social Democrat parties on the modernisation of Germany's constitution, stating that he felt that the provinces had not been given sufficient powers to deal with their own affairs. Wulff has also taken a conservative stand on nuclear energy, advocating an extension of the deadlines for the decommissioning of Germany's nuclear reactors.[6]

In a recent speech, Wulff also expressed his opposition to euthanasia and warned of a retreat of moral values. This can be seen as the first attempt to formulate a value-based agenda for the 2008 legislative assembly, and more importantly, the 2009 federal elections. In this context, it is important to note that Chancellor Angela Merkel had been severely criticized for a lack of emotional warmth during the 2005 federal election campaign, leading to a worse-than-expected result for the Christian Democrats.

Wulff announced on 8 January that Lower Saxony would become the first province to approve a new model according to which the government will temporarily pay part of the salaries for low-salary jobs, if the employers concerned are willing to employ an employee concerned on a long-term basis. This pilot is supposed to make new jobs more affordable in Germany's notoriously high-wages environment.[7]

Wulff and the 2005 federal elections

Due to his popularity in Lower Saxony, and in federal opinion polls, Wulff was considered to be a contender for the office of Chancellor.

After the 23 May announcement that federal elections will be advanced to September 2005, Wulff announced that he was not a candidate for the Christian Democrat nomination for Chancellor, particularly as he has not completed his first term as Premier of Lower Saxony. Instead, Wulff declared his support for Angela Merkel, the CDU leader in the Bundestag. It was expected that the Christian Democrats would win the election and form a government, and that Wulff would be given a position in this government, entering federal politics. However, with the September 18 election resulting in a hung parliament, the outcome is unclear. Wulff continued to be named as a possible CDU candidate for Chancellor, particularly if Chancellor Merkel failed to secure a decisive mandate in the 2009 federal election.

Candidate for President of Germany

His candidacy for President of Germany in the 2010 presidential election was formally confirmed by Angela Merkel, Guido Westerwelle and Horst Seehofer, the heads of the CDU, FDP and CSU parties, in the evening of 3 June 2010. The three parties will have a majority in the Federal Convention, which is scheduled to elect the President on 30 June 2010.[8] If elected, he will be Germany's first Roman Catholic President in more than forty years (the last Roman Catholic President was Heinrich Lübke).

Wulff will likely be succeeded as Prime Minister of Lower Saxony by David McAllister.[9]

Until 3 June, Ursula von der Leyen (the daughter of the last CDU Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, Ernst Albrecht) was widely considered the front-runner, but reportedly, Christian Wulff and some other influential CDU politicians rejected her candidacy, in part because of lack of support from the influential conservative wing of the party. Wulff reportedly stated that he himself would "feel good as president"[10].

His main contender in the election is non-partisan Joachim Gauck, an anti-communist activist from East Germany and a former Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Archives, who was nominated by the opposition SPD and Greens as their presidential candidate on 3 June.

Family

Christian Wulff met his first wife, lawyer Christiane Wulff (born 1959), when they were both law students in Osnabrück in 1983. They married in March 1988, and have a daughter, Annalena (born 1993). In June 2006, Wulff announced that he would divorce his wife. Wulff subsequently married an aide from the PM's Office, Bettina Körner[11] (now Bettina Wulff, born 1973 in Hanover), on 21 March 2008 in a low-key ceremony. She has a son from a previous relationship, and on 12 May 2008, she gave birth to their first child together, a boy.

References

  1. ^ a b Buergin, Rainer; Parkin, Brian (30 June 2010). "Merkel's Presidential Candidate Wulff Wins in Third-Round Vote". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 30 June 2010. Wulff, who is married with one daughter and a son, will be sworn in on July 2.
  2. ^ http://www.kleinezeitung.at/nachrichten/politik/aussenpolitik/2366743/christian-wulff-sieht-sich-nicht-alpha-tier.story
  3. ^ n24.de (in German)
  4. ^ ftd.de (in German)
  5. ^ FAZ.de (in German)
  6. ^ tagesschau.de (in German)
  7. ^ welt.de (in German)
  8. ^ "Koalition präsentiert Wulff als ihren Kandidaten" (in German). Retrieved 3 June 2010. Text "worktagesschau.de" ignored (help)
  9. ^ http://www.ftd.de/politik/deutschland/:liveticker-zur-koehler-nachfolge-wulff-will-menschen-zusammenfuehren/50122510.html (in German)
  10. ^ Dempsey, Judy (3 June 2010). "Merkel's Favorite for German Presidency Loses Out". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  11. ^ Fischer, Sebastian; Schröder, Alwin; Volkery, Carsten (8 December 2006). "Von Bin Baden bis Bin Nacktbaden". Der Spiegel (in German). Retrieved 30 June 2010.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Horst Köhler
Jens Böhrnsen
acting head of state
since 31 May
President of Germany
since 30 June 2010
Incumbent
Preceded by
Sigmar Gabriel
Prime Minister of Lower Saxony
4 March 2003-22 June 2010
Succeeded by
vacant
David McAllister
designated successor
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jürgen Gansäuer
President of CDU in Lower Saxony
1994-2008
Succeeded by
David McAllister