Horst Seehofer

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Horst Seehofer
12-07-17-landtagsprojekt-bayern-RalfR-001.jpg
Minister President of Bavaria
Assumed office
27 October 2008
Deputy Ilse Aigner (since 2013)[1]
Martin Zeil (2008-2013)[2]
Preceded by Günther Beckstein
Acting head of the Federal Republic of Germany
According to Article 57 of the Basic Law
In office
17 February 2012 – 18 March 2012
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Preceded by Christian Wulff
Succeeded by Joachim Gauck
President of the Bundesrat
In office
1 November 2011 – 31 October 2012
Preceded by Hannelore Kraft
Succeeded by Winfried Kretschmann
Chairman of the Christian Social Union
Assumed office
25 October 2008
Preceded by Erwin Huber
Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection
In office
22 November 2005 – 27 October 2008
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Preceded by Renate Künast
Succeeded by Ilse Aigner
Federal Minister of Health
In office
6 May 1992 – 26 October 1998
Chancellor Helmut Kohl
Preceded by Gerda Hasselfeldt
Succeeded by Andrea Fischer
Member of the Bundestag
In office
1980 – 2008
Succeeded by Reinhard Brandl
Personal details
Born (1949-07-04) 4 July 1949 (age 67)
Ingolstadt, Bavaria, Germany
Political party Christian Social Union
Spouse(s) Karin Seehofer
Children 4
Religion Roman Catholicism
Signature
Website Official website

Horst Lorenz Seehofer (born 4 July 1949) is a German conservative politician (CSU). He served as the Federal Minister for Health and Social Security from 1992 to 1998 and as the Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection in the cabinet of Angela Merkel from 2005 to 2008. In October 2008 he became chairman of the CSU and Minister President of Bavaria. In 2011/12 he served as President of the Bundesrat.[3]

He is married to Karin Seehofer.

Early life and education[edit]

After secondary school, Seehofer started working as an errand boy in the local administration in Ingolstadt.[4]

Political career[edit]

Federal Minister and Member of the Bundestag[edit]

Seehofer served as member of the Lower House of the German Parliament (Bundestag) in Germany from 1980. He was Federal Minister for Health and Social Security from 1992 to 1998 in the cabinet of Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

In 1993, Seehofer ordered that Germany’s 117-year-old Federal Health Agency be dissolved following a review of how the government in the 1980s handled the cases of thousands of hemophiliacs who were infected through blood contaminated with H.I.V. The Health Ministry took over the agency's responsibilities.[5] Also, Seehofer announced that Germany would contribute to an emergency fund for victims of the scandal.[6] In the context of the crisis, he came under considerable pressure to resign.[7]

Seehofer became deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group of the Bundestag in October 1998, which was led at the time by Wolfgang Schäuble. Because of his disagreement with flat-rate contributions (Gesundheitsprämie) to the federal health insurance he resigned from his post on 22 November 2004 but remained the deputy chairman of the CSU and kept his mandate. After joining the Bundestag Seehofer kept his mandate as a directly elected delegate (Direktkandidat) from his Constituency Ingolstadt. At the 2005 federal election he received 65.9 percent of the votes in his district. Seehofer was appointed Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection in the cabinet of Angela Merkel and stayed in office from 2005 to 2008.

Minister-President in Bavaria[edit]

After his party lost more than 17% of the popular vote in the Bavarian state elections of 2008, incumbent Minister-President Günther Beckstein and Chairman of the CSU, Erwin Huber, announced their resignations.[8][9] Seehofer was quickly proposed as their successor. At a party convention on 25 October he was affirmed as the new Chairman of the CSU with 90% of the votes, and on 27 October he was elected Minister-President by the Landtag with votes from the Free Democratic Party, forming the first coalition government in Bavaria since 1962.

During the term 2011–2012, Seehofer served as President of the German Bundesrat. As such, he acted as Acting President of Germany between Christian Wulff's resignation on 17 February 2012[10][11][12][13][14] and the election of Joachim Gauck on 18 March 2012.

Under Seehofer’s leadership, the State of Bavaria took to the Federal Constitutional Court in 2012 in order to dispute the legality of Germany’s post-World War II system of financial redistribution among the country’s 16 states. Bavaria, a beneficiary of the system until 1988, had paid more in 2011 than it got out in the 40 years it was a net recipient.[15] The State of Hesse, another per-capita contributor, joined the lawsuit.[16]

In 2013, Seehofer won a record 95.3 percent of the party's votes to continue as chairman.[17] Together with Angela Merkel and Sigmar Gabriel, he later led the negotiations to form a coalition government following the 2013 federal elections.

In early 2015, under pressure from younger rivals, Seehofer announced he would retire at the next regional election in 2018.[18] Later that year, when was chosen the fifth time as leader of the CSU, he received 87.2 percent of the vote, some 8 percent down on the result he achieved in 2013.[19] In August 2016, Seehofer said he may break with party unity and run a separate campaign in the 2017 national elections, a move widely seen as an an effort to keep pressure on Merkel to shift to a more restrictive refugee policy in the European migrant crisis.[20]

Political positions[edit]

Immigration[edit]

In 2010, remarks made by Seehofer according to which Turkish and Arab migrants were no longer needed in Germany were strongly criticized by the Turkish community and by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government.[21]

In 2011, Seehofer took the debate further when he said those who wanted to stay in Germany should be ready to sign up to German values. He proposed a change to the Bavarian Constitution so that the authorities in the state would be under obligation to help with the integration process but that minorities, too, should be prepared to actively support the integration process.[22]

In late 2015, Seehofer and the CSU sharply criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy, as the party’s home turf of Bavaria was the main entry point for refugees and other migrants arriving in Germany.[23] Under pressure from Seehofer and his allies, Merkel later restricted cash benefits for refugees and added Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro to the list of "safe" countries to which migrants can be returned.[24] He repeatedly called on the federal government to set a cap on the amount of refugees Germany should be taking in,[25] saying that the country was able to manage only "200,000 applicants [per year] for asylum … at the most."[26] Seehofer later threatened to file a complaint against the government's refugee policy with Germany's Constitutional Court.[27]

Foreign policy[edit]

Seehofer is opposed to Turkey’s becoming a member of the European Union.[28] In 2009, he stated that Turkey "as a self-proclaimed representative of the Muslim world, clearly doesn't fit in".[29]

In an interview with news magazine Der Spiegel in late 2014, Seehofer warned Germany’s foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his fellow Social Democrats (SPD) against pursuing a more friendly approach towards Russia in the Ukraine crisis, arguing that "if Mr Steinmeier is pursuing his own form of diplomacy alongside the chancellor, that would be highly dangerous."[30][31] He added that, even within his own party, there was already too much friendly sentiment towards Russia that had to be kept in check.[32] However, in 2015, he held that is "realpolitik" to try to involve Russia in tackling global crises.[33] In early 2016, his plan to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow met with harsh criticism, including from CDU politicians.[34]

European integration[edit]

In 2012, Seehofer demanded that the German constitution be changed to permit referendums on decisions to deepen European integration and transfer powers to European institutions. That same year, he criticized International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde’s proposal for measures that would result in a mutualization of Eurozone debt, arguing that shared liability for sovereign debt and a banking union would remove pressure on governments to carry out economic policy changes.[35]

In 2013, Seehofer made Peter Gauweiler a deputy leader of the CSU in a bid to court the party’s euro critics; however, Gauweiler quit after two years in protest at the extension of Greece’s aid program.[36]

Other activities[edit]

  • Bayerische Landesstiftung, Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Trustees
  • Bavarian Research Foundation, Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Trustees
  • Deutsches Museum, Member of the Board of Trustees
  • Committee for the preparation of the Reformation anniversary 2017, Member of the Board of Trustees
  • Hanns Seidel Foundation, Member of the Board
  • Sudetendeutsche Stiftung, Member of the Board of Trustees
  • German Energy Agency (DENA), Member of the Supervisory Board (-2008)
  • KfW, Ex-Officio Member of the Supervisory Board (-2008)
  • Landwirtschaftliche Rentenbank, Deputy Chairman of the Supervisory Board (-2008)
  • Donau-Wasserkraft AG (DWK), Member of the Supervisory Board (1998-2005)
  • ZDF, Member of the Board of Directors (2010-2014)

Recognition[edit]

Personal life[edit]

A married father of three, Seehofer failed in a 2007 bid for the CSU leadership when it emerged that he had a daughter born out of wedlock, from an extramarital affair with a much younger staffer of the German Bundestag.[39] After a period of indecision, he opted to return to his wife.[40]

In 2002, Seehofer survived a serious myocarditis.[41] His health again became an subject of public debate when he collapsed during a speech at a party event in early 2015.[42]

References[edit]

  1. ^ de:Kabinett Seehofer II
  2. ^ de:Kabinett Seehofer I
  3. ^ "Germany's Seehofer, Merkel Ally, Elected Bavarian State Premier". Bloomberg. 2008-10-27. Retrieved 2011-07-09. 
  4. ^ Toby Vogel (5 February 2014), Horst Seehofer – Alpha male European Voice.
  5. ^ German Agency Says It Erred in H.I.V. Case New York Times, 15 October 1993.
  6. ^ Craig R. Whitney (13 November 1993), Germany to Pay Victims in AIDS Blood Scandal New York Times.
  7. ^ Stephen Kinzer (5 November 1993), Fear of H.I.V.-Infected Blood Spreads Past German Borders New York Times.
  8. ^ "Bavaria's CSU leader quits after election blow". Reuters. 2008-09-30. Retrieved 2011-07-09. 
  9. ^ "Second CSU leader quits, raising risks for Merkel". Reuters. 2008-10-01. Retrieved 2011-07-09. 
  10. ^ "Bundesratspräsident nimmt Befugnisse des Bundespräsidenten wahr". Bundesrat. 2012-02-17. Retrieved 2012-02-17. 
  11. ^ "President Wulff resigns". The Local. Retrieved 17 February 2012. 
  12. ^ "Staatsoberhaupt Seehofer" (in German). Süddeutsche Zeitung. 2012-02-18. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  13. ^ "Horst Seehofer ist kommissarisches Staatsoberhaupt" (in German). Welt Online. 2012-02-17. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  14. ^ "Porträt: Seehofer kommissarisches Staatsoberhaupt" (in German). Zeit Online. 2012-02-17. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  15. ^ Rainer Buergin (17 July 2012), Bavaria to Challenge Germany’s Postwar System of State Finances Bloomberg Business.
  16. ^ Joseph de Weck (5 February 2013), Richest German States Challenge System of Paying for Poor Bloomberg Business.
  17. ^ Paul Carrel (30 October 2015), Horst Seehofer: Merkel ally turned menace-in-chief Reuters.
  18. ^ Stefan Wagstyl (7 October 2015), Bavarian ally proves a thorn in Merkel’s side on refugees Financial Times.
  19. ^ Bavarian premier Seehofer re-elected CSU party leader Deutsche Welle, 21 November 2015.
  20. ^ Rainer Buergin (August 1, 2016), Merkel’s Bavarian Ally Hints at Snub of Chancellor in 2017 Vote Bloomberg News.
  21. ^ Judy Dempsey (11 October 2010), German Politician Makes Anti-Immigrant Remarks International Herald Tribune.
  22. ^ Judy Dempsey (9 March 2011), Merkel Ally Assails Turkey on Human Rights International Herald Tribune.
  23. ^ Andrea Thomas (20 November 2015), Angela Merkel, CSU’s Horst Seehofer Clash Over German Policy for Migrants Wall Street Journal.
  24. ^ Stefan Wagstyl (7 October 2015), Bavarian ally proves a thorn in Merkel’s side on refugees Financial Times.
  25. ^ Ruth Bender (14 January 2016), Bavarian Town Protests Merkel’s Refugee Policy With Busload of Migrants Wall Street Journal.
  26. ^ Janosch Delcker (6 January 2016), Merkel and Seehofer play nice, but alliance is under strain Politico Europe.
  27. ^ Michelle Martin (31 January 2016), Bavarian leader defends planned visit to Putin in Moscow Reuters.
  28. ^ Judy Dempsey (9 March 2011), Merkel Ally Assails Turkey on Human Rights International Herald Tribune.
  29. ^ Ben Hall and Chris Bryant (9 April 2009), France and Germany play politics with accession Financial Times.
  30. ^ Michael Nienaber (22 November 2014), Merkel ally warns SPD against own diplomacy towards Russia Reuters.
  31. ^ Stefan Wagstyl and Roula Khalaf (26 November 2014), Merkel offers Russia trade talks olive branch Financial Times.
  32. ^ Nikolaus Blome, Peter Müller, Christian Neef, Ralf Neukirch and Christoph Schult (25 November 2014), Relations at Rock Bottom: Cracks Form in Berlin Over Russia Stance Der Spiegel.
  33. ^ Arne Delfs (21 November 2015), Merkel's Bavarian Ally Plans Putin Visit in Bid for Global Stage Bloomberg Business.
  34. ^ Michelle Martin (31 January 2016), Bavarian leader defends planned visit to Putin in Moscow Reuters.
  35. ^ Rainer Buergin (29 June 2012), Lagarde Wrong to Urge Mutualized Debt, Germany’s Seehofer Says Bloomberg Business.
  36. ^ Rainer Buergin and Patrick Donahue (31 March 2015), German Euro Critic Quits Merkel Caucus in Greece Protest Bloomberg Business.
  37. ^ Marc Hujer (February 20, 2014), Family Affair: The Klitschko Brothers' Most Important Fight Der Spiegel.
  38. ^ Seehofer wird Ehrendoktor in Siebenbürgen Münchner Merkur.
  39. ^ Toby Vogel (5 February 2014), Horst Seehofer – Alpha male European Voice.
  40. ^ Paul Carrel (30 October 2015), Horst Seehofer: Merkel ally turned menace-in-chief Reuters.
  41. ^ Stefan Wagstyl (7 October 2015), Bavarian ally proves a thorn in Merkel’s side on refugees Financial Times.
  42. ^ Joseph Nasr (19 January 2016), Leader of Merkel's Bavarian allies collapses at party event Reuters.

External links[edit]

Media related to Horst Seehofer at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices
Preceded by
Gerda Hasselfeldt
Federal Minister of Health
1992–1998
Succeeded by
Andrea Fischer
Preceded by
Renate Künast
Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection
2005–2008
Succeeded by
Ilse Aigner
Preceded by
Günther Beckstein
Minister President of Bavaria
2008–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Hannelore Kraft
President of the Bundesrat
2011–2012
Succeeded by
Winfried Kretschmann
Preceded by
Christian Wulff
President of Germany
Acting

2012
Succeeded by
Joachim Gauck
Party political offices
Preceded by
Erwin Huber
Chairman of the Christian Social Union
2008–present
Incumbent