Guido Westerwelle: Wikis

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Guido Westerwelle

Westerwelle arriving at Hamm, during the 2009 campaign.

Incumbent
Assumed office 
28 October 2009
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Preceded by Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Incumbent
Assumed office 
28 October 2009
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Preceded by Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Incumbent
Assumed office 
2001
Preceded by Wolfgang Gerhardt

Born 27 December 1961 (1961-12-27) (age 48)
Bad Honnef, Germany
Political party FDP
Domestic partner Michael Mronz
Residence Berlin, Bonn
Occupation Politician, Lawyer
Website http://www.guido-westerwelle.de/

Guido Westerwelle (born 27 December 1961) is a German liberal politician, currently serving as the Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor of Germany in the second cabinet of Chancellor Angela Merkel (since 28 October 2009). He is the first openly gay person to hold either of those positions. Since 2001, he has been the chairman of the Free Democratic Party of Germany. A lawyer by profession, he has been a Member of Parliament since 1996.

Contents

Early life and education

Guido Westerwelle was born in Bad Honnef in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. After graduating from Gymnasium in 1980, he studied law at the University of Bonn from 1980 to 1987. Following the First and Second State Law Examinations in 1987 and 1991 respectively, he began practicing as an attorney in Bonn in 1991. In 1994, he earned a doctoral degree in law from FernUniversität Hagen. He is frank with his homosexuality and lives together with his partner Michael Mronz.

Career in the FDP

Westerwelle joined the FDP in 1980. He was a founding member of the Junge Liberale, the youth organization of that party, and was its chairman from 1983 to 1988.

Having been a member of the Executive Board of the FDP since 1988, he first gained national prominence in 1994, when he was appointed Secretary General of the party. As such, he was a notable proponent of an unlimited free market economy and took a leading part in the drafting of a new party programme.

In 1996, Westerwelle was first elected a member of the German Bundestag, filling in for Heinz Lanfermann, who had resigned from his seat after entering the Ministry of Justice. In 1998, Westerwelle was re-elected to parliament.

In 2001, he succeeded Wolfgang Gerhardt as party chairman, who however remained chairman of the FDP's parliamentary group. Westerwelle, the youngest party chairman at the time, emphasized economics and education, and espoused a strategy initiated by his deputy Jürgen Möllemann, who as chairman of the North Rhine-Westphalia branch of party, had led his party back into the state parliament, gaining 9.8% of the vote. This strategy, transferred to the federal level, was dubbed Project 18, referring both to the envisioned percentage and the German age of majority. Leading up to the 2002 elections, he positioned his party in equidistance to the major parties and refused to commit his party to a coalition with either the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats. He was also declared the FDP's candidate for the office of chancellor. Since the FDP had never claimed such a candicacy (and hasn't done since) and had no chance of attaining it against the two major parties, this move was widely seen as flippant political marketing alongside other moves, such as driving around in a campaign van dubbed Guidomobile, wearing the figure 18 on the soles of his shoes or appearance in the Big Brother TV show.[1] Eventually, the federal elections yielded a slight increase of the FDP's vote from 6.8% to 7.4%. Despite this setback, he was reelected as party chairman in 2003.

Westerwelle hamm 2009.jpg

In the federal elections of 2005, Westerwelle was his party's frontrunner. When neither the Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's Social Democrats and Greens nor a coalition of Christian and Free Democrats, favoured by Angela Merkel and Westerwelle, managed to gain a majority of seats, Westerwelle rejected overtures by Chancellor Schröder to save his chancellorship by entering his coalition and preferred to become one of the leaders of the disparate opposition of the subsequently formed Grand coalition of Christian and Social Democrats under Chancellor Angela Merkel. Westerwelle became a vocal critic of the new government. In 2006, according to an internal agreement, Westerwelle succeeded Wolfgang Gerhardt as chairman of the parliamentary group.

Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor of Germany

In the federal elections of 2009, Westerwelle committed his party to a coalition with Mrs Merkel's CDU/CSU, ruling out a coalition with Social Democrats and Greens, and led his party to unprecedented 14.6%.[2] In accordance with earlier announcements, he formed a coalition government with CDU/CSU. On October 28 he was sworn in as Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor, becoming the head of the Foreign Office.[3][4][5]

His deputies at the Foreign Office are Werner Hoyer and Cornelia Pieper as Ministers of State. Hoyer previously held the same office in the Cabinet Kohl V.

Positions

Westerwelle is a staunch supporter of the free market and has proposed reforms to curtail the German welfare state and deregulate German labor law. In an interview in February 2003, Westerwelle described trade unions as a "plague on our country" and said union officials were "the pall-bearers of the welfare state and of the prosperity in our country".[6] He has called for substantial tax cuts and smaller government, in line with the general direction of his party.

Controversy

His chairmanship has also seen considerable controversy. Critics inside and outside the FDP have accused him of focusing on public relations, as opposed to developing and promoting sound public policy, especially in the election campaign of 2002. Westerwelle himself, who was made party chairman particularly because his predecessor Wolfgang Gerhardt had been viewed by many as dull and stiff, has labeled his approach as Spaßpolitik (fun politics) in the past.[7]

At a press conference 27th september 2009, after the election, Westerwelle refused to answer a question in English from a BBC-reporter, claiming that "it is normal to speak German in Germany".[8]

Personal life

On 20 July 2004, Westerwelle attended Angela Merkel's 50th birthday party accompanied by his partner, businessman Michael Mronz, thereby tacitly acknowledging that he was gay. It was the first time that he attended an official event with his partner.[9]

References

Bibliography

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Foreign Minister of Germany
since 2009
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Preceded by
Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Vice Chancellor of Germany
since 2009
Succeeded by
Incumbent

Simple English

Dr. Guido Westerwelle (born 27 December 1961 in Bad Honnef) is a German politician. He is Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor of Germany.

From 1994 to 2001 he was secretary general of the German liberal party, the Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP). In 2001 he became the leader of the party.

He is also the leader of the FDP parliamentary group and from 1999 to 2005 was head of the opposition in the German Bundestag.

He is openly Gay


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