Heide Simonis

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Heide Simonis

Heide Simonis (German pronunciation: [ˈhaɪdə ziˈmoːnɪs]; born July 4, 1943 in Bonn as Heide Steinhardt) is a German politician. She is a member of the SPD. From 1993 to 2005 she served as the 11th Minister President of Schleswig-Holstein. She was the first woman, who became head of a german state government.


Simonis earned her high school degree (Abitur) in 1962 in Nürnberg. She then studied economics and sociology at the Universities of Erlangen-Nürnberg and Kiel, graduating with a degree in economics in 1967. She worked in different positions after 1967.

Simonis has been married to university professor Udo Simonis.

Political career[edit]

Simonis joined the SPD in 1969. She was elected to the German Bundestag in 1976. In 1992, she became a member of the legislature of Schleswig-Holstein. On May 19, 1993, she was elected Minister President of said state, after her predecessor Björn Engholm resigned from that position due to a scandal. She was the first woman in Germany to rise to this level in politics.

The state election in 1996 saw the SPD drop down to 39.8% (from 46.2% in 1992), but Simonis was able to form a coalition with the Greens. In February 2000, at the height of a CDU party financing scandal,[1] the SPD was able to enlarge its share to 43.1%. Despite basing its 2005 election campaign on Simonis' popularity,[2] the SPD suffered a heavy defeat due to the bad economic situation and dropped down to 38.7% (for the first time in almost twenty years behind the CDU).

On March 17, 2005 Simonis failed to be re-elected as Minister President of Schleswig-Holstein in 4 consecutive ballots by the Landtag (parliament) of Schleswig-Holstein. In the 1st ballot she received 34 votes and Peter Harry Carstensen (CDU) received 33 while 2 deputies cast empty votes. Neither Simonis nor Carstensen got the absolute majority (35 votes). In the 2nd and 3rd ballot the candidates received 34 votes each. Obviously one deputy of the alliance of SPD, Grüne (Greens) and SSW abstained. An unprecedented 4th ballot brought the same result. Simonis has since stepped down as Minister President of Schleswig-Holstein.


From 2005 until February 2008 Simonis served as Chief of the German UNICEF. She resigned from this position due to a scandal related to donations to the organisation that arose during her term.[3][4]


  1. ^ "BBC News - EUROPE - CDU fails election test". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 31 May 2017. 
  2. ^ GmbH, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "Aktuelle Nachrichten online". FAZ.NET. Retrieved 31 May 2017. 
  3. ^ "Heide Simonis tritt zurück". 2 February 2008. Retrieved 31 May 2017. 
  4. ^ Nitschmann, Johannes (17 May 2010). ""Das ist schon heftig"". Retrieved 31 May 2017 – via Sueddeutsche.de. 

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