Manuela Schwesig

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Manuela Schwesig
Manuela Schwesig 2.jpg
Manuela Schwesig speaking at the SPD party convent in Berlin (2015)
Federal Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth
Assumed office
17 December 2013
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Preceded by Kristina Schröder
Minister of Health and Social Affairs of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
In office
6 October 2008 – 17 December 2013
Preceded by Erwin Sellering
Succeeded by Birgit Hesse
Vice Chairwoman of SPD
with Hannelore Kraft, Klaus Wowereit and Olaf Scholz
Assumed office
13 November 2009
Preceded by Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Peer Steinbrück
Andrea Nahles
Personal details
Born (1974-05-23) 23 May 1974 (age 42)
Frankfurt/Oder, East Germany
Nationality German
Political party SPD
Alma mater Training and Further Education Centre Königs Wusterhausen (de)
Profession Public servant
Religion Lutheran[1]

Manuela Schwesig (born 23 May 1974 in Frankfurt (Oder),[1] East Germany) is a German politician (SPD). She is currently the Federal Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Frankfurt (Oder), Schwesig grew up in the nearby town of Seelow.[2][3] After graduation in 1992 at the high school (Gymnasium Seelow) on the Seelow Heights,[1] she completed a study of the Advertisement of service in the tax administration of the federal state of Brandenburg. She attended the Training and Further Education Centre (Fachhochschule für Finanzen) in Königs Wusterhausen.[1]

Political career[edit]

Schwesig became a member of SPD in 2003, at 29 years of age. She subsequently served as a member of the Schwerin City Council from 2004 to 2008.

Schwesig soon became the deputy party leader of the SPD and State Minister of Social Affairs and Health in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, under the leadership of Minister-President Erwin Sellering.

Ahead of the 2009 elections, German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier included Schwesig, then a relatively unknown face to the German public, in his shadow cabinet of 10 women and eight men for the Social Democrats’ campaign to unseat incumbent Angela Merkel as chancellor.[4] During the campaign, Schwesig served as shadow minister for family affairs[5] who advocated the party’s family-friendly policies.[6]

Schwesig was a SPD delegate to the Federal Convention for the purpose of electing the President of Germany in 2010 and 2012. In 2011, she led high-level talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen for the then-opposition Social Democrats on reaching a compromise over how to increase basic social welfare benefits for the unemployed.[7]

Following the 2013 elections, Schwesig served as the Social Democrats' main negotiator in the working group for families, women and equal opportunities when Germany's two largest parties, Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc and the left-leaning Social Democrats, held talks on forming a broad coalition government.[8]

Federal Minister of Family Affairs, 2013–present[edit]

In the third Merkel cabinet, Schwesig, who at 39 was the youngest cabinet member,[9] became the Federal Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth – a position also occupied by Merkel in her first cabinet post under German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in the early 1990s.[10]

At an SPD convention in late 2015, Schwesig received 93 percent of members’ ballots, the best result of any of the party leadership.[11] Shortly after, the party’s board mandated Schwesig and Thomas Oppermann with the task of drafting an electoral program for the 2017 federal elections.[12]

Political positions[edit]

Manuela Schwesig (2014)

Child protection[edit]

Schwesig is a member of the German Child Protection League (de). Her main focus is to fight child poverty and provide for good state childcare facilities. In 2009 she supported the idea promoted by Minister Ursula von der Leyen to block websites featuring child pornography.

On her order the employees of nursery schools in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern have to declare their commitment to uphold the principles of Germany's basic laws (the constitution).

Advancement of women[edit]

In 2014, Schwesig helped introducing a bill mandating compulsory quotas for women on the supervisory boards of the Germany’s top companies,[13] which was passed in early 2015. Also in early 2015, she called for a law that would force companies to allow female employees to see how their salaries compare with those of male colleagues.[14] Meanwhile, she has been championing a substantial expansion of state-sponsored child care facilities.[15]

In 2016, Schwesig successfully introduced changes to Germany's maternity protection legislation by expanding the laws to include groups of women not explicitly covered (including school and university students, women working as interns, and women pursuing vocational training) and attempting to reduce bureaucratic red tape.[16]

Political extremism[edit]

In a 2014 lawsuit before the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany, the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) complained over comments made by Schwesig during that year’s parliamentary election campaign for the state of Thuringia. In a newspaper interview, Schwesig had made the comment: "The number one goal is that the NPD does not make it into the parliament." The NPD accused the minister of breaching her duty of neutrality and interfering with the campaign, and made a complaint before the Federal Constitutional Court. But the court ruled in December 2014 that Schwesig did not damage the NPD's right to a level playing field, because her comments fell under the "political struggle of opinion."[17]

Other activities[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Schwesig is married and has two children.[18]


  1. ^ a b c (German) Manuela Schwesig's website
  2. ^ "Deutschlands jüngste Ministerin". Bild (in German). 4 October 2008. 
  3. ^ "Die erstaunliche Karriere von Steinmeiers Mädchen". Die Welt (in German). 28 July 2009. 
  4. ^ Bertrand Benoit (30 July 2009), Lagging SPD starts campaign Financial Times.
  5. ^ "Rising Star Paves Path to a Family Friendly Germany". Spiegel Online. 8 April 2009. Retrieved 4 September 2010. 
  6. ^ Patrick Donahue (15 December 2013), Merkel’s Third-Term Cabinet: Social Democratic Party Ministers Bloomberg.
  7. ^ Judy Dempsey (9 February 2011), Merkel Breaks Off Talks With Opposition International Herald Tribune.
  8. ^ Harriet Torry (18 November 2013), 30% Female Quota for German Boards Proposed: Parties in Coalition Negotiation Agreed to Put Forward Legislation Wall Street Journal.
  9. ^ Rainer Buergin (22 January 2014), Schaeuble as Merkel’s Dr. No Holds Coalition Purse Strings Bloomberg.
  10. ^ Patrick Donahue (15 December 2013), Merkel’s Third-Term Cabinet: Social Democratic Party Ministers Bloomberg.
  11. ^ Gabriel abgestraft, Stellvertreter gestärkt Tagesschau, December 11, 2015.
  12. ^ Oppermann und Schwesig sollen SPD-Wahlprogramm entwerfen Der Spiegel, November 6, 2015.
  13. ^ Alison Smale (26 November 2014), Germany Planning Quotas for Women in Boardrooms New York Times.
  14. ^ Louise Osborne (2 March 2015), Plan for 'equal wages' law in Germany meets with strong industry opposition The Guardian.
  15. ^ German court rules controversial child care subsidy unlawful Deutsche Welle, July 21, 2015.
  16. ^ Matt Zuvela (May 4, 2015), Added protections for expecting and nursing mothers pass German cabinet Deutsche Welle.
  17. ^ Far-right NPD party loses case over German minister's opinion Deutsche Welle, 16 December 2014.
  18. ^ "Bundesfamilienministerin: Schwesig bringt Tochter zur Welt". Spiegel online. 8 March 2016. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Manuela Schwesig at Wikimedia Commons