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Frank-Walter Steinmeier

In office
21 November 2007 – 27 October 2009
Preceded by Franz Müntefering
Succeeded by Guido Westerwelle

In office
22 November 2005 – 27 October 2009
Preceded by Joschka Fischer
Succeeded by Guido Westerwelle

Born 5 January 1956 (1956-01-05) (age 54)
Detmold, West Germany
Nationality German
Political party Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD)
Alma mater University of Giessen
Religion Evangelical Church in Germany[1]

Frank-Walter Steinmeier (born 5 January 1956) is a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), and currently the leader of the opposition in the Bundestag. Steinmeier was a close aide of former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, serving as Chief of Staff in the German Chancellery from 1999 to 2005. He subsequently served as Foreign Minister (2005-2009) and Vice Chancellor (2007-2009) in the grand coalition government of Angela Merkel. In 2008, he briefly served as acting chairman of his party.


Early life

Steinmeier was born in Detmold. Following his Abitur, he served his military service from 1974 until 1976. He then studied law and political science at the Justus-Liebig-Universität of Gießen. In 1982 he passed his first and 1986 his second state examination in law. He worked as scientific assistant to the professor of public law and political science at the Gießen university, until he obtained his doctorate of law in 1991.

Steinmeier is married and has one daughter.

Political career

Steinmeier became an adviser in 1991 for law of communication media and media guidelines in the state Chancellery of Lower Saxony in Hanover. In 1993, he became director of the personal office for the then Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, Gerhard Schröder. In 1996, he became the Undersecretary of State and Director of the State Chancellery of Lower Saxony.

Steinmeier was appointed in November 1998 as Undersecretary of State in the Office of the Chancellor following Schröder's election victory. He replaced Bodo Hombach as the head of the Office of the Chancellor in 1999. Because of his effective management beyond the spotlight of politics, he was nick-named Die Graue Effizienz (The Grey Efficiency) - a pun on Graue Eminenz, the German for éminence grise.


Foreign minister

On 22 November 2005, he became Foreign Minister of Germany in the Grand coalition cabinet formed by Angela Merkel. Steinmeier was the first SPD Foreign Minister since Willy Brandt (1966-1969).

Following Franz Müntefering's departure from the cabinet on 21 November 2007, Steinmeier also filled the position of Vice-Chancellor.[2]

In 2007, Steienmeier said he opposes European Commission proposals on unbundling the ownership of energy networks in the European Union.[3]

Russian opposition activists celebrated when Steinmeier lost elections in 2009, signaling their discontent with Steinmeier. Oleg Orlov, head of the Memorial human rights group, said that Steinmeier had prolonged Schröder's policies on Russia and that Germany's policies were "extremely bad for civil society, democracy and the country as a whole".[4]

In 2008, Steinmeier refused to meet Dalai Lama. Instead, Steienmeier issued the statement "it takes a lot of courage not to meet with the Dalai Lama these days", which the New York Times described as "extraordinary cynical" and accused of Steinmeier of prioritizing money over human rights.[5][6][7]

Steinmeier served as acting chairman of the SPD from 7 September 2008 to 18 October 2008.

2009 elections

On 7 September 2008, following the resignation of SPD chairman Kurt Beck, Steinmeier was chosen as the SPD front-runner for the 2009 federal elections and also designated as acting SPD Chairman, pending the return of Müntefering to that position.[8]

After the SPD's decisive defeat in the elections[9], Steinmeier was elected as chairman of the SPD's parliamentary group in the Bundestag, and as such leader of the opposition.[10]


External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Bodo Hombach
Chief of the Chancellery
Succeeded by
Thomas de Maizière
Preceded by
Joschka Fischer
Foreign Minister of Germany
Succeeded by
Guido Westerwelle
Preceded by
Franz Müntefering
Vice Chancellor of Germany
Succeeded by
Guido Westerwelle

Simple English

File:Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier (born 5 January, 1956) is a German politician. He is Foreign Secretary and Vice-Chancellor of Germany.

Steinmeier was born in Detmold in 1956.[1] After his abitur (secondary school exam) and his military service, he studied law in Gießen.[1] In 1982, he passed his first exam. His second exam was completed and passed in 1986.[needs proof] Between 1986 to 1991, he worked as assistant to the Doctor of Public Law and Political Science at the Gießen University.[2] He obtained his Doctorate of Law in 1991.

Up from 1991, he worked in the State Chancellory of Lower Saxony for the governor, Gerhard Schröder. Up from 1998, he was Undersecretary of State in Gerhard Schröder's Chancellor Office after Schröder became Chancellor of Germany.[3] In 1999 he became Secretary of State.

In 2005, he became the new Foreign Minister of Germany in the coalition cabinet of Angela Merkel. He became Vice Chancellor of Germany in 2007. In 2008 he was elected to be the chancellor wikt:candidate of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) for the election in 2009. The SPD got their worst result ever in a German federal election (23.0%), and Steinmeier became leader of the SPD parliamentay group in the Bundestag.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Araloff, Simon (2005-10-14). ""Frank Walter Steinmeier — Curator of Germany's Secret Services Will Shape Foreign Policy". Global Challenges Research. Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  2. "1986 - 1991 Academic assistant, Chair of Public Law and Political Science, Department of Law, Giessen University"


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