Renate Künast

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Renate Künast
Renate Künast 20090915-DSCF1946.jpg
Renate Künast
Member of the Bundestag
Assumed office
Chairwoman of Parliamentary Group of Alliance '90/The Greens
with Fritz Kuhn (2005-2009)
with Jürgen Trittin (2009-2013)
In office
President Horst Köhler
Christian Wulff
Joachim Gauck
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Preceded by Katrin Göring-Eckardt
Succeeded by Katrin Göring-Eckardt
Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection
In office
12 January 2001 – 4 October 2005
Preceded by Karl-Heinz Funke
Succeeded by Jürgen Trittin (acting)
Horst Seehofer
Member of the Berlin House of Deputies
In office
Personal details
Born (1955-12-15) 15 December 1955 (age 59)
Recklinghausen, Germany
Nationality German
Political party  German:
Alliance '90/The Greens
The Greens–European Free Alliance
Residence Berlin, Germany
Alma mater Fachhochschule Düsseldorf
Free University of Berlin
Occupation attorney

Renate Künast (born 15 December 1955) is a German politician of Alliance '90/The Greens. She was the Minister of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture from 2001 to 2005 and subsequently served as chairwoman of the her party's parliamentary group in the Bundestag.

Personal life[edit]

Künast was born in Recklinghausen, North Rhine-Westphalia. She studied social work in Düsseldorf and worked from 1977 to 1979 in this profession in a jailhouse in Berlin. After that she studied law at the Free University of Berlin until 1985 and worked as lawyer specializing on aliens law and criminal law.

Political career[edit]

Since 1979, Künast has been a member of the German Green Party (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), first in the Alternative List in West Berlin. In the 1990s she was member of parliament and chairwoman of the greens in the parliament of Berlin.

From June 2000 to March 2001 she was co-chair of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen on the national level, together with Fritz Kuhn. Since her party at the time did not allow the combination of functions in the party and the government in one person, she resigned when she became Minister for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection in the second government of Gerhard Schröder in 2001. By naming someone with no experience in farming to head a ministry with such sweeping powers, Schröder was widely considered gambling that any loss of support among farmers would be more than compensated by support from ecologically conscious Germans alarmed by the discovery of mad cow disease.[1] Künast held the office until 2005, over time becoming known for increasing consumer protection, supporting organic farming, and expanding animal welfare.

Künast is also a member of the Humanist Union, a civil rights organization.[2] She is on the board of trustees of the Berlin-based AIDS-Hilfe (AIDS-Help) group,[3] and is an honorary member of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation[4] and the Angelo Roncalli Committee within that organization.[5]

After the 2005 federal election, Künast became co-chair of the Green Party's parliamentary group, again together with Fritz Kuhn and later with Jürgen Trittin.

Künast announced on 5 November 2010 that she we would be the candidate for Governing Mayor of Berlin for Alliance '90/The Greens in the Berlin state election, 2011.[6] At the time of the announcement, her party was eight percentage points ahead of the Social Democrats in the opinion polls.[7] Under her leadership, the Green Party came third with 17.6 percent of the vote, up from the 13.1 percent they won in the previous election.[8] However, incumbent Klaus Wowereit from the Social Democrats chose to enter a coalition with the conservative CDU, leaving Künast without any role in Berlin state politics.

After the 2013 federal elections, the resignation of Künast and Jürgen Trittin as co-leaders of the Green Party's group in parliament cleared the way for the election of Katrin Göring-Eckardt and Anton Hofreiter.[9] In 2014, Künast was instead elected chairwoman of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Consumer Protection. Already since 2005, she also been serving on the Committee on the Election of Judges (Wahlausschuss), which is in charge of appointing judges to the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany.

Political positions[edit]

Human rights[edit]

In 2010, Künast criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel for speaking at an award ceremony for Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard in Potsdam, arguing that while it was true that the right to freedom of expression also applies to Westergaard’s controversial Muhammad cartoons "if a chancellor also makes a speech on top of that, it serves to heat up the debate."[10]

In August 2012, Künast was one of 124 members of the Bundestag to sign a letter that was sent to the Russian ambassador to Germany, Vladimir Grinin, expressing concern over the trial against the three members of Pussy Riot. “Being held in detention for months and the threat of lengthy punishment are draconian and disproportionate,” the lawmakers said in the letter. “In a secular and pluralist state, peaceful artistic acts -- even if they can be seen as provocative -- must not lead to the accusation of serious criminal acts that lead to lengthy prison terms.”[11][12]

In 2015, Künast was the initiator of a bill in favor of legalizing assisted suicide, arguing that "a punishment of commercial euthanasia would expose doctors to the severe risk of legal investigations." However, the Bundestag later voted to criminalize organizations that assist patients seeking to terminate their lives in return for payment and makes assisting a suicide punishable by up to three years in prison.[13]

Economic policy[edit]

Amid the financial crisis of 2007–08, Künast proposed to solve the state-owned banks' financial woes and to merge the Germany’s then eight regional banks into one institution, which would concentrate on regional economic development. In a 2008 interview with newspaper Welt am Sonntag: "The regional banks should be merged into one and their functions need to be clearly laid out."[14] Ahead of the 2009 federal elections, in an attempt to come up with an antidote to the other political parties’ hijacking of green ideas, Künast and her fellow lead candidate Jürgen Trittin backed up their critique of incumbent Chancellor Angela Merkel's government with a "Green New Deal", calling for €20 billion ($27.4 billion) a year to be invested in climate protection, environmental technology and education.[15]

Consumer protection[edit]

In 2010, Künast called for a ban on advertising for sweets aimed at children.[16]

Relations with the CDU[edit]

Over the course of her career, Künast has regularly dismissed prospects for an alternative coalition between the Greens and Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union on a national level.[17]


In 2010, Künast – along with Cécile Duflot, Monica Frassoni, and Marina Silva – was named by Foreign Policy magazine to its list of top global thinkers,[18] for taking Green mainstream.


In July 2009 she was accused of antisemitism by the Jerusalem Post, after she had allegedly been overheard calling the pro-Israel "Stop The Bomb" organisation a "Mossad front", which she denied.[19][20]


  • Die Dickmacher. Warum die Deutschen immer fetter werden und was wir dagegen tun müssen. Riemann Verlag, 2004, ISBN 3-570-50062-4.
  • Klasse statt Masse. Die Erde schätzen, den Verbraucher schützen. Econ Ullstein List Verlag, München 2002.
  • Der Mordfall Schmücker und der Verfassungs„schutz“. Dokumentation seit dem 29. September 1986, vorgelegt von Renate Künast (MdA), Februar 1987. Alternative Liste für Demokratie und Umweltschutz, Fraktion des Abgeordnetenhauses von Berlin, 1987.


  1. ^ Roger Cohen (January 11, 2001), Two Named to New German Agency in Shuffle Over Beef Disease New York Times.
  2. ^ Beirat der Humanistischen Union
  3. ^ Kuratorium der BAH, Berliner AIDS-Hilfe.
  4. ^ Honorary Members, International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.
  5. ^ Honorary Members, Angelo Roncalli Committee, International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.
  6. ^ "German Green leader to run for Berlin mayor". The Irish Times. 6 November 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2010. 
  7. ^ Siobhán Dowling (December 15, 2010), Letter from Berlin: Star Candidate's Gaffes Have Berlin Greens Jittering Spiegel Online.
  8. ^ State Election in German Capital: Klaus Wowereit Wins Third Term as Berlin Mayor Spiegel Online, September 18, 2011.
  9. ^ Quentin Peel (September 24, 2013), Centre-left opposition to coalition with Merkel deepens Financial Times.
  10. ^ Award for Danish Muhammad Cartoonist: Merkel Defends Press Freedom, Condemns Koran-Burning Spiegel Online, September 9, 2010.
  11. ^ Henry Meyer (August 8, 2012), Madonna Urges Freedom for Anti-Putin Punk Girls at Concert Bloomberg News.
  12. ^ Appell aus dem Bundestag: Deutsche Abgeordnete fordern Milde für Pussy Riot Spiegel Online, August 7, 2012.
  13. ^ Tina Bellon (November 6, 2015), German parliament votes to criminalize commercial euthanasia Reuters.
  14. ^ Consolidation Pressure in Germany: Politicians Call for State-Owned Banks to Merge Spiegel Online, April 7, 2008.
  15. ^ Charles Hawley (May 13, 2009), Letter from Berlin: Germany's Green Party Faces Four More Years of Opposition Spiegel Online.
  16. ^ Outlawing Obesity: European Governments Seek to Mandate Healthier Diets Spiegel Online, January 11, 2010.
  17. ^ Quentin Peel (September 17, 2013), Prospects fade for Green - SPD coalition in Germany Financial Times.
  18. ^,30
  19. ^ Benjamin Weinthal (2008-11-09). "German Kristallnacht events marred by reported rise in anti-Semitism". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2009-09-28. 
  20. ^ Benjamin Weinthal (2009-07-12). "German pro-Israel group labeled 'Mossad front'". Retrieved 2009-09-28. 

External links[edit]