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Kurt Beck


In office
April 10, 2006 – September 7, 2008
Preceded by Matthias Platzeck
Succeeded by Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Acting)

Incumbent
Assumed office 
1994
Preceded by Rudolf Scharping

Born February 5, 1949 (1949-02-05) (age 60)
Bad Bergzabern, Germany Germany
Nationality German Germany
Political party SPD
Religion Roman Catholic

Kurt Beck (born February 5, 1949) is a German politician (SPD), serving as the Minister President of the German federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz) since 1994 and as President of the Bundesrat in 2000/01. On May 14, 2006, he succeeded Matthias Platzeck as Chairman of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). He resigned from that post on September 7, 2008.

Contents

Biography

Beck was born in Bad Bergzabern, Palatinate, to the bricklayer Oskar Beck and his wife Johanna. Both his parents had their roots in the town Kapsweyer in southern Rhenish Palatinate. He grew up in Steinfeld.

From 1963 to 1968, he became an electrician. After military duty in 1968 and 1969, he graduated from an evening school in 1972. Since then, he served as an employee representative on works councils.

Beck is Catholic. He lives with his wife, Roswitha, whom he married in 1968 in Steinfeld, Rhineland-Palatinate. They have one son.

Political career

Kurt Beck and Johannes Rau at the East Asia Institute in 2000.

After joining the SPD in 1972, mainly because of the Party's programme as well as the personality of Willy Brandt, Beck became chairman of the SPD of Rhineland Palatinate in 1993 and deputy chairman of the federal party in 2003. He served in this function until May 14, 2006, when Matthias Platzeck had to resign for medical reasons and Beck was officially elected as chairman of the SPD with the approval of 95 % of the delegates.[1]

Merkel and Beck (2007)

In local affairs, Beck is active since 1974, when he was first elected a member of the Kreistag. From 1989 to 1994, he was mayor of his hometown Steinfeld. Since 1979, he is a directly-elected member of the Landtag of Rhineland-Palatinate. In it, he served as the speaker for social affairs of the Parliamentary group of the SPD from 1982 to 1985 and as a member of the governing body of the group from 1985 to 1993, when he was elected chairman.

On October 26, 1994, Kurt Beck was elected Minister President of Rhineland-Palatinate, succeeding Rudolf Scharping. He was re-elected three times, in 1996, 2001 and 2006. As prime minister he is known for his centrist approach, which is also apparent from the choice of his coalition partner (the liberal FDP instead of the left-wing Green Party, with which the SPD has recently allied itself). In this point, he follows the policy of Scharping. In March 2006, Beck's SPD gained an absolute majority in the state elections; Beck offered to continue the coalition but since the FDP declined, the SPD formed a government without a partner. After Edmund Stoiber resigned in 2007, Beck is the senior Minister President in Germany.

In 2000 and 2001, Beck was President of the Bundesrat, one of his duties as Minister President.

According to public opinion polls, Beck's possibilities of becoming Bundeskanzler, should he run for this office, are very limited. According to Süddeutsche Zeitung,[2] only 16% of Germans would elect him in the hypothetical case of a direct vote against Angela Merkel.

On September 7, 2008, Beck resigned as Chairman at a party meeting in Werder and Steinmeier was chosen as the SPD candidate for Chancellor in the 2009 election, while Franz Müntefering was expected to replace Beck as Chairman.[3] Beck said that he was a victim of intrigue inside the SPD.[4]

Controversies

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Henrico Frank

Near the end of 2006, Beck recommended to Henrico Frank, an unemployed construction worker from Wiesbaden, to wash himself and shave so he could get a job.[5] Following a media controversy about Beck's behaviour, Frank declined all jobs offered to him by the state chamber. Later, he was hired as a punk rock expert for iMusic TV.[6]

Afghanistan

In April 2007, Beck proposed a peace conference in Afghanistan with the inclusion of "moderate Taliban".[7] The Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, Rangin Dadfar Spanta, thus accused him of being naïve. He compared the idea of "moderate Taliban" to distinguishing between moderate and radical right-wing extremists in Rhineland-Palatinate.[8] The German public mostly ignored the affair.

Web

Notes

This article incorporates information from the revision as of February 11, 2008 of the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.

References

Political offices
Preceded by
Rudolf Scharping
Minister-President of Rhineland-Palatinate
1994-
Succeeded by
incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Matthias Platzeck
Chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany
2006-2008
Succeeded by
Frank-Walter Steinmeier (interim)

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