Markus Söder

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Markus Söder
Markus Söder MSC 2019 (cropped).jpg
Söder in 2019 at the 55th Munich Security Conference
Minister President of Bavaria
Assumed office
16 March 2018
DeputyIlse Aigner
Hubert Aiwanger
Preceded byIlse Aigner (Acting)
Leader of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria
Assumed office
19 January 2019
General SecretaryMarkus Blume
Preceded byHorst Seehofer
Minister of Finance, Regional Development and Home Affairs of Bavaria
In office
3 November 2011 – 21 March 2018
Minister PresidentHorst Seehofer
Preceded byGeorg Fahrenschon
Succeeded byAlbert Füracker
Minister of Health and the Environment of Bavaria
In office
20 October 2008 – 4 November 2011
Minister PresidentHorst Seehofer
Preceded byOtmar Bernhard
Succeeded byMarcel Huber
Minister of Federal and European Affairs of Bavaria
In office
16 November 2007 – 17 October 2008
Minister PresidentGünther Beckstein
Preceded byEmilia Müller
Succeeded byEmilia Müller
Member of the Landtag of Bavaria
for Nuremberg-West
Assumed office
25 September 1994
Majority13.1% (12,620)
Personal details
Born (1967-01-05) 5 January 1967 (age 54)
Nuremberg, West Germany
Political partyChristian Social Union
Military service
Allegiance Germany
Branch/service Bundeswehr
Years of service1986
Unit Army (Heer) / Transportbataillon 270

Markus Thomas Theodor Söder (born 5 January 1967) is a German politician serving as Minister President of Bavaria since 2018 and Leader of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU) since 2019.

Background, education and military service[edit]

After graduating from the Gymnasium in 1986, he served his military service from 1986 to 1987. He then studied law at the University of Erlangen–Nuremberg from 1987 with a scholarship from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. He passed his first state examination in 1991 and was a research assistant at the department of constitutional, administrative and church law at the same university. In 1998 he was awarded a doctorate in law with a dissertation in legal history titled Von altdeutschen Rechtstraditionen zu einem modernen Gemeindeedikt: Die Entwicklung der Kommunalgesetzgebung im rechtsrheinischen Bayern zwischen 1802 und 1818.[1] He worked as a trainee and then as an editor with Bayerischer Rundfunk in Munich from 1992 to 1994, when he was elected to the Bavarian Parliament and became a full-time politician.

Political career[edit]

Career in Bavarian politics[edit]

Söder has been a member of the Landtag, the state parliament of Bavaria, since 1994. From 2003 to 2007 he was secretary general of the CSU party; in this capacity, he worked closely with then Minister-President and party chairman Edmund Stoiber. During his time in office, he was also part of the CDU/CSU team in the negotiations with the SPD on a coalition agreement following the 2005 federal elections,[2] which paved the way to the formation of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s first government.

Söder has since been member of the Beckstein, Seehofer I and II cabinets. From 2007 to 2008 he was Bavaria's State Minister for Federal and European Affairs, the successor office of Foreign Minister of Bavaria, and from 2008 to 2011 State Minister for Environment and Health.

State Minister of Finance, 2011–2018[edit]

As finance minister in the state government of Minister-President Horst Seehofer, Söder was also one of the state’s representatives at the Bundesrat, where he served on the Finance Committee.

During his time in office, Söder was put in charge of overseeing the restructuring process of ailing state-backed lender BayernLB in a bid to win approval for an aid package from the European Commission.[3] In 2014, he pushed BayernLB to sell its Hungarian MKB unit to that country's government, ending an ill-fated investment that had cost it a total of 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in losses over 20 years.[4] In 2015, Söder and his Austrian counterpart Hans Jörg Schelling agreed a provisional deal that settled the two governments’ array of legal disputes stemming from the collapse of the Carinthian regional bank Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank International. Under the memorandum of understanding, Austria would pay €1.23 billion to Bavaria. All legal cases relating to the dispute would also be dropped.[5]

Also in 2012, Söder and Minister-President Horst Seehofer filed a lawsuit in the Federal Constitutional Court, asking the judges to back their call for an overhaul of the German system of financial transfers from wealthier states (such as Bavaria) to the country's weaker economies.[6] On Söder's initiative, Bavaria became the first regional government in Volkswagen's home country to take legal action against the carmaker for damages caused by its emissions-test cheating scandal. At the time, Söder argued that the state's pension fund for civil servants had lost as much as 700,000 euros ($780,000) as a consequence of the scandal.[7]

When Seehofer came under pressure after the CSU had suffered heavy losses in the 2017 national elections, he decided to remain party chairman but agreed to hand over leadership of Bavaria to Söder.[8]

Minister-President of Bavaria, 2018–present[edit]

In March 2018, lawmakers formally elected Söder as new Minister-President to replace Horst Seehofer, who had become German interior minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new cabinet. He received 99 of the 169 state deputies’ votes, with 64 voting against – a better result than Seehofer when he began his final term in 2013.[9]

In January 2019, CSU delegates elected Söder to replace Seehofer as their leader with an 87.4 percent majority at a party conference. He was the sole candidate.[10]

Role in national politics[edit]

Söder was a CSU delegate to the Federal Convention for the purpose of electing the President of Germany in 1999, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2017.[citation needed]

In the negotiations to form a coalition government of the Christian Democrats (CDU together with the Bavarian CSU) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) following the 2009 federal elections, Söder was part of the CDU/CSU delegation in the working group on health policy, led by Ursula von der Leyen and Philipp Rösler.

In the negotiations to form a Grand Coalition of the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats (SPD) following the 2013 federal elections, Söder was part of the CDU/CSU delegation in the working groups on financial policy and the national budget, led by Wolfgang Schäuble and Olaf Scholz, and on bank regulation and the Eurozone, led by Herbert Reul and Martin Schulz.[11]

In a May 2020 poll, 53 per cent of Germans expressed support for Söder as the ruling Christian Democrats’ candidate for chancellor in the 2021 elections; in his home state, he enjoyed approval ratings of over 90 per cent at that point.[12]

Other activities (selection)[edit]

Corporate boards[edit]

  • Munich Airport, ex officio chairman of the supervisory board
  • Nuremberg Airport, ex officio member of the supervisory board, chairman of the supervisory board (since 2017)[13]
  • KfW, ex officio member of the board of supervisory directors (2011–2016)[14]
  • BayernLB, ex officio chairman of the supervisory board (2011–2012)
  • ZDF, ex officio member of the Television Board (2002–2008, 2013–2016)

Non-profit organizations[edit]

Political positions[edit]

Söder during the MSC 2019

European integration[edit]

During the Greek government-debt crisis, Söder was among the most vocal in calling for Greece to leave the Eurozone.[16] By 2012, he said in an interview: "Athens must stand as an example that this Eurozone can also show teeth."[17]

In early 2018, Söder reiterated his opposition against any expansion of the eurozone to include countries like Bulgaria and Romania; the introduction of Eurobonds; and the creation of a European finance minister post.[18]

Domestic policy[edit]

In 2012, under Söder's leadership, Bavaria pledged €500,000 ($687,546) in public funding for the Munich-based Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ) to produce a critical, annotated version of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf for publication in 2015 when the copyright expired. Söder said at the time that the publication would aim to "demystify" Hitler's manifesto. By 2013, however, the Bavarian state government ended its funding for the project.[19]

Throughout the European migrant crisis, Söder has sharply criticized the migrant policies of Angela Merkel several times. He warned of a "huge security gap" that remained because the whereabouts of hundred thousands of migrants was still unclear and he strongly doubted that the integration of so many people could succeed. In Söder's view, the Germans did not want a multicultural society. Refugees should return to their home countries whenever possible. The dictum "Wir schaffen das" ("We make it") of Chancellor Merkel was "not the right signal", instead he suggested "Wir haben verstanden" ("We have understood").[20]

In 2018, Söder's government enacted the Kreuzpflicht, an obligation to display crosses at the entrance of public buildings. Söder has stated that the crosses are not to be seen as Christian symbols, but as symbols of Bavarian cultural identity.[21]

During his campaign for the 2018 state elections, Söder appealed to traditionalists while also seeking to enhance Bavaria's high-tech "laptops and Lederhosen" reputation with a promise of a new space programme for the state and more high-speed internet access.[22]

Family policy[edit]

In a July 2020 interview with Ulrich Wickert, Söder supported same-sex marriage in Germany.[23][24]

Foreign policy[edit]

In his capacity as Minister-President, Söder has made several foreign trips, including for meetings with President Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia (2019)[25] and President Vladimir Putin of Russia (2020).[26][27]

Personal life[edit]

Söder and his wife Karin during the 2018 Fastnacht; Söder is dressed as Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria and wearing the uniform of a General of the Kingdom of Bavaria

Söder has been married to Karin Baumüller since 1999; Baumüller is one of the owners of Nuremberg-based Baumüller Group, a leading manufacturer of electric automation and drive systems.[28] The couple have three children. In addition, Söder has a daughter from an earlier relationship.[29]

Söder is a Protestant.[30][31] He is also known for his extravagant costumes during the carnival season which have included Shrek and Marilyn Monroe.[32]


  1. ^ Worüber Stoiber und Co. promovierten
  2. ^ Am Montag soll auch Merkels Liste stehen Hamburger Abendblatt, 14 October 2005.
  3. ^ Christian Kraemer, Arno Schuetze and Foo Yun Chee (28 March 2012), Owners of BayernLB agree on revamp Reuters.
  4. ^ Jörn Poltz and Krisztina Than (24 July 2014), BayernLB sells unit MKB to Hungary Reuters.
  5. ^ James Shotter (7 July 2015), Austria to pay Bavaria €1.23bn to settle Hypo Alpe Adria dispute Financial Times.
  6. ^ Christian Kraemer (17 July 2012), Bavaria seeks to trump Merkel with anti-bailout card Reuters.
  7. ^ Joern Poltz and Andreas Cremer (2 August 2016), German state of Bavaria to sue VW over emissions scandal Reuters.
  8. ^ Janosch Delcker (16 December 2017), Horst Seehofer reelected leader of Merkel’s Bavarian allies Politico Europe.
  9. ^ Maxime Schlee (16 March 2018), Markus Söder becomes Bavarian state premier Politico Europe.
  10. ^ Joern Poltz (19 January 2019), Leader of Bavarian CSU promises new start with Merkel's party Reuters.
  11. ^ Matthias Sobolewski (30 October 2013), German-Swiss tax deal could be revived, conservatives say Reuters.
  12. ^ Guy Chazan (May 13, 2020), Coronavirus throws open race to succeed Merkel Financial Times.
  13. ^ Söder neuer Aufsichtsratsvorsitzender des Flughafens Nürnberg Nuremberg Airport, press release of 31 March 2017.
  14. ^ 2011 Annual Report KfW.
  15. ^ Board of Trustees Deutsches Museum.
  16. ^ Michelle Martin (29 July 2015), Merkel's Bavarian ally says Grexit would cause 'utter chaos' Reuters.
  17. ^ James Angelos (7 December 2012), Greece's Samaras Aims to Win Over Bavarians Wall Street Journal.
  18. ^ Andrea Shalal (14 February 2018), Bavaria Fin Minister rejects eurozone expansion to Romania, Bulgaria Reuters.
  19. ^ Harriet Torry (12 December 2013), Bavaria Ends Funding for Scholarly Edition of 'Mein Kampf' Wall Street Journal.
  20. ^ Flüchtlinge sind "riesige Sicherheitslücke in Deutschland", Die Welt, 26 August 2016, in German
  21. ^ France-Presse, Agence (25 April 2018). "Bavarian leader orders Christian crosses on all state buildings". the Guardian. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  22. ^ Guy Chazan (14 September 2018), Merkel’s ally tested on refugee crisis and far right in Bavaria Financial Times.
  23. ^ Ulrich Wickert Podcast: Wickert trifft Markus Söder (german), July 2020
  24. ^ Die Liebe ist per se se segnenswert (german), July 2020
  25. ^ Söder trifft sich mit äthiopischer Staatspräsidentin Die Welt, 17 April 2019.
  26. ^ Meeting with Minister President of Bavaria Markus Soeder Kremlin, press release of January 29, 2020.
  27. ^ Ralf Schuler (30 January 2020), Ein Bayer im Kreml: So lief Söders Treffen mit Putin BILD.
  28. ^ Claudia Urbasek (23 January 2016), Profitiert Söders Familie von der Flüchtlingskrise? Nürnberger Zeitung.
  29. ^ Franz Solms-Laubach (24 May 2007), Markus Söder und seine uneheliche Tochter Die Welt.
  30. ^ Frederick Studemann (12 June 2018), Bavaria crosses a line to fend off the far-right Financial Times.
  31. ^ Joern Poltz (19 January 2019), Leader of Bavarian CSU promises new start with Merkel's party Reuters.
  32. ^ Joern Poltz (19 January 2019), Leader of Bavarian CSU promises new start with Merkel's party Reuters.

External links[edit]