Thomas Oppermann

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For the German legal scholar, see Thomas Oppermann (academic).
Thomas Oppermann
Thomas Oppermann neu.jpg
Chairman of the SPD-Parliamentary Group
Assumed office
16 December 2013
Preceded by Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Member of the Bundestag
for Göttingen
Assumed office
18 September 2005
Preceded by Inge Wettig-Danielmeier
Personal details
Born (1954-04-27) 27 April 1954 (age 62)[1]
Freckenhorst, West Germany
(now Germany)
Political party Social Democratic Party
Alma mater University of Tübingen
University of Göttingen

Thomas Ludwig Albert Oppermann[2] (born 27 April 1954 in Freckenhorst, West Germany) is a German politician with the Social Democratic Party (SPD). From 1998-2003, he was the Minister for Science and Culture in the German state of Lower Saxony. He has been the First Secretary of the SPD Parliamentary Group in the Bundestag from November 2007 to December 2013. Currently, he serves as Chairman of the SPD Parliamentary Group.

Oppermann belongs to the right wing of the SPD, known as reformists and moderates.[3]

Life and career[edit]

Oppermann received his abitur diploma from the Goetheschule in Einbeck. Afterwards, he studied German studies and English studies at Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen. From 1976 to 1978, he worked at Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP) in the United States. After his return to Germany, he went to law school at Georg August University in Göttingen, finishing in 1986. From then until 1990, he was an administrative court judge in Hannover and later in Braunschweig. From 1988 to 1989, he was the judge at the administrative court in the city of Hann. Münden. Oppermann has three daughters and one son.[4]

Political career[edit]

Role in regional politics[edit]

Oppermann has been a member of the (SPD) since 1980 and president of the regional SPD in Göttingen since 1989.[4] He was a member of the Lower Saxon Landtag from 1990-2005.[5] He was speaker for legal affairs there from 1990-1998.

Between 1998 and 2003, Oppermann served as State Minister for Education and Cultural Affairs in the cabinets of Minister-Presidents Gerhard Schröder, Gerhard Glogowski and Sigmar Gabriel. In 1999, after Glogowski’s resignation, Oppermann lost an internal party vote against Gabriel on becoming the next Minister-President.[6]

From 2003 to 2005, Oppermann was the economic speaker of the state SPD parliamentary group. From 2001-2005, he was also a member of the county council in Göttingen.

National politics[edit]

Since the 2005 federal election, Oppermann has been a member of the Bundestag (German parliament). From March 2006 to November 2007, he was speaker of the working group and leader of the SPD delegation on the committee to investigate the secret services (Geheimdienst-Untersuchungsausschuss).

Oppermann was elected as the First Parliamentary Secretary of the SPD parliamentary group in November 2007, succeeding Olaf Scholz; he was subsequently re-elected in 2011 and 2013. In this capacity, he also joined the parliament’s Council of Elders, which – among other duties – determines daily legislative agenda items and assigning committee chairpersons based on party representation. He also became a member of the Parliamentary Control Panel (PKGr), which provides parliamentary oversight of Germany’s intelligence services BND, BfV and MAD.

Between 2006 and 2013, Oppermann was the Deputy Chairman of the German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group. From 2009, he served on the parliamentary body in charge of appointing judges to the Highest Courts of Justice, namely the Federal Court of Justice (BGH), the Federal Administrative Court (BVerwG), the Federal Fiscal Court (BFH), the Federal Labour Court (BAG), and the Federal Social Court (BSG).

Ahead of the 2009 elections, German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier included Oppermann, then 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.[7] During the campaign, Oppermann served as shadow minister for interior affairs and therefore as counterpart of incumbent Wolfgang Schäuble.[7]

In the negotiations to form a so-called Grand Coalition following the 2013 federal elections, Oppermann led the SPD delegation in the internal and legal affairs working group; his co-chair was Hans-Peter Friedrich of the CSU. When Frank-Walter Steinmeier resigned as Chairman of the SPD Parliamentary Group to serve once again as foreign minister in Angela Merkel's second Grand Coalition, Oppermann was elected as his successor on 16 December 2013.

Oppermann also serves on the Committee on the Election of Judges (Wahlausschuss), which is in charge of appointing judges to the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany.

In late 2015, the SPD’s board under the leadership of Sigmar Gabriel mandated Oppermann and Manuela Schwesig with the task of drafting an electoral program for the 2017 federal elections.[8]

Political positions[edit]

Thomas Oppermann alongside Angela Merkel and Volker Kauder at the Deutscher Bundestag, 2014

In 2011, Oppermann publicly spoke out in favor of holding a national referendum over fundamental principles of the European Union on the day of the 2013 parliamentary election.[9]

In 2013, Oppermann criticized the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel as news emerged of its intentions to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, saying that the conservatives wanted to "totally upgrade" the country's military capabilities.[10]

Faced with 800,000 migrants arriving in Germany in 2015, Oppermann said his party would never accept a "CSU proposal to create 'transit zones' near the border, where asylum seekers with no chance of staying could be quickly sent back home".[11]

Other activities[edit]

Controversy[edit]

When former member of parliament Sebastian Edathy in December 2014 appeared before a Bundestag inquiry into his purchase of child pornography, he was asked about whether a tip-off from party colleagues gave him time to destroy evidence ahead of a police raid on his home and office. Edathy claimed senior SPD members, particularly Oppermann, breached legal privilege by discussing the case with colleagues and staff.[15] During a closed-door hearing of the Committee on Internal Affairs earlier that year, Oppermann had denied that he or any of his fellow high-ranking SPD officials “indirectly or directly informed or even warned Sebastian Edathy of the investigation or our knowledge of it.“[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Deutscher Bundestag - Oppermann, Thomas". 22 September 2013. 
  2. ^ FOCUS Online (18 January 2014). "Politik: Dieser Junge wollte Minister werden ...". FOCUS Online. 
  3. ^ Daniel Friedrich Sturm (July 20, 2012), Der heimliche General der Sozialdemokratie Die Welt.
  4. ^ a b c Oppermann biography Official website of the German Bundestag. Retrieved 12 March 2010 (German)
  5. ^ Thomas Oppermann listing Watch group website. Retrieved 12 March 2010 (German)
  6. ^ Sigmar Gabriel soll neuer Ministerpräsident werden Spiegel Online, November 27, 1999.
  7. ^ a b Veit Medick (July 31, 2009), SPD Presents Shadow Cabinet: No Stars for 'Team Steinmeier' Spiegel Online.
  8. ^ Oppermann und Schwesig sollen SPD-Wahlprogramm entwerfen Der Spiegel, November 6, 2015.
  9. ^ Christoph Hickmann, Peter Müller, René Pfister and Christoph Schwennicke (November 14, 2011), A German Referendum on Europe? Merkel Eyes Constitution Revamp to Boost EU Powers Der Spiegel.
  10. ^ Arms Exports: Berlin Backs Large Defense Deal with Saudi Arabia Spiegel Online, February 3, 2014.
  11. ^ "Merkel faces domestic revolt over refugee welcome". Yahoo News. 15 October 2015. 
  12. ^ Circle of Friends Das Progressive Zentrum.
  13. ^ 2005 Annual Report EnBW.
  14. ^ 2006 Annual Report EnBW.
  15. ^ Derek Scally (December 18, 2014), Ex-SDP politician testifies on his use of child pornography Irish Times.
  16. ^ Oppermann defends actions in Bundestag hearing over Edathy affair Deutsche Welle, February 19, 2014.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Chairman of the SPD Parliamentary Group
2013–present
Incumbent