Andrea Nahles

Last updated
Andrea Nahles
2019-02-05 Andrea Nahles-4936.jpg
Leader of the Social Democratic Party
In office
22 April 2018 3 June 2019
General Secretary Lars Klingbeil
Deputy Manuela Schwesig
Natascha Kohnen
Malu Dreyer
Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel
Ralf Stegner
Olaf Scholz
Preceded by Olaf Scholz (Acting)
Succeeded by Malu Dreyer (Acting)
Manuela Schwesig (Acting)
Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel (Acting)
Leader of the Social Democratic Party in the Bundestag
In office
27 September 2017 4 June 2019
Chief Whip Carsten Schneider
Preceded by Thomas Oppermann
Succeeded by Rolf Mützenich (Acting)
Minister of Labour and Social Affairs
In office
17 December 2013 27 September 2017
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Preceded by Ursula von der Leyen
Succeeded by Katarina Barley (Acting)
General Secretary of the Social Democratic Party
In office
13 November 2009 26 January 2014
Leader Sigmar Gabriel
Preceded by Hubertus Heil
Succeeded by Yasmin Fahimi
Deputy Leader of the Social Democratic Party
In office
26 October 2007 12 November 2009
Leader Kurt Beck
Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Acting)
Franz Müntefering
Preceded by Kurt Beck
Succeeded by Hannelore Kraft
Member of the Bundestag
for Rhineland-Palatinate
Assumed office
18 September 2005
In office
27 September 1998 22 September 2002
Personal details
Andrea Maria Nahles

(1970-06-20) 20 June 1970 (age 48)
Mendig, West Germany
(now Germany)
Political party Social Democratic Party
Spouse(s)Marcus Frings (divorced)
Alma mater University of Bonn
Website Official website

Andrea Maria Nahles (born 20 June 1970) is a German politician who has served as Leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) from April 2018 until June 2019 and the leader of the SPD in the Bundestag from September 2017 until June 2019. She served as a Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs from 2013 to 2017 and SPD Youth leader. She is known within the party for criticising Gerhard Schröder's Agenda 2010. In June 2019 in the aftermath of the SPD's result in the 2019 European elections, [1] she announced her resignation as leader of the SPD and as parliamentary leader of the SPD. [2] For the transition period until a new SPD-leader is voted in, Manuela Schwesig, Malu Dreyer and Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel act as her successors. [3]

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

A politician is a person active in party politics, or a person holding or seeking office in government. Politicians propose, support and create laws or policies that govern the land and, by extension, its people. Broadly speaking, a "politician" can be anyone who seeks to achieve political power in any bureaucratic institution.

Social Democratic Party of Germany Social-democratic political party in Germany

The Social Democratic Party of Germany, or SPD, is a social-democratic political party in Germany.


Early life and education

Born in 1970 in Mendig, Rhineland-Palatinate, to a bricklayer and an office clerk, Nahles grew up in the rural Eifel region in West Germany. [4] [5] She finished high school (Abitur) through a continuing education program in 1989. She obtained an MA after studying politics, philosophy and German studies at the University of Bonn for 20 semesters (10 years), during which time she was an assistant to a member of parliament.

Mendig Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Mendig is a small town in the district Mayen-Koblenz, in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is situated approximately 6 km north-east of Mayen, and 25 km west of Koblenz.

Rhineland-Palatinate State in Germany

Rhineland-Palatinate is a state of Germany.

Abitur is a qualification granted by university-preparatory schools in Germany, Lithuania, and Estonia. It is conferred on students who pass their final exams at the end of their secondary education, usually after twelve or thirteen years of schooling. In German, the term Abitur has roots in the archaic word Abiturium, which in turn was derived from the Latin abiturus.

In 2004, Nahles began working towards a doctorate in Germanistics. She abandoned her dissertation in 2005 when she returned to the Bundestag. The title of her planned dissertation was Walter Scott's influence on the development of the historical novel in Germany.

Bundestag Federal parliament of Germany

The Bundestag is the German federal parliament. It can be compared to the chamber of deputies along the lines of the United States House of Representatives or the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. Through the Bundesrat, a separate institution, the individual states of Germany participate in legislation similar to a second house in a bicameral parliament.

Walter Scott 18th/19th-century Scottish historical novelist, poet and playwright

Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet was a Scottish historical novelist, poet, playwright and historian. Many of his works remain classics of both English-language literature and of Scottish literature. Famous titles include Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, Old Mortality, The Lady of the Lake, Waverley, The Heart of Midlothian and The Bride of Lammermoor.

Political career

Party career

In 1988, Nahles joined the SPD at the age of 18. Shortly after, she was the youth representative for the constituency of Mayen-Koblenz. From 1993 to 1995 she was the youth representative for Rheinland-Pfalz. In 1995 she became the national youth representative, following Thomas Westphal, a post she held until 1999. Since 1997 she has been a member of the SPD executive.

In 2000, Nahles was one of the founders of the "Forum Demokratische Linke 21" (Forum of the Democratic Left 21). As leader of the SPD's left wing and former head of party's youth section, she opposed many of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's economic reforms, namely the Agenda 2010. [6] She and others repeatedly criticized the leadership style of the party's chairman Franz Müntefering, saying the party was never consulted over Schröder's decision in May 2005 to call early elections or the decision to join a grand coalition under Merkel that would include the major parties. [7]

Gerhard Schröder German politician (SPD)

Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder is a German politician who served as Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005, during which his most important political project was the Agenda 2010. As a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), he led a coalition government of the SPD and the Greens.

The Agenda 2010 is a series of reforms planned and executed by the German government, a Social-Democrats/Greens coalition at that time, which aimed to reform the German welfare system and labour relations. The declared objective of Agenda 2010 was to promote economic growth and thus reduce unemployment.

Franz Müntefering German politician (SPD)

Franz Müntefering is a German politician and industrial manager. He was Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) from 2004 to 2005 and again from 18 October 2008 to 13 November 2009. He served as Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, as well as Vice-Chancellor, from 2005 to 2007.

As party leaders sought to reconcile the bickering factions in the post-Schröder era, Nahles gained in leverage. [8] On 31 October 2005, she was voted the SPD's general secretary, defeating Kajo Wasserhövel, the favoured man from the conservative side of the party. Wasserhövel's defeat prompted Franz Müntefering to declare that he no longer feels he has the confidence of the party and will step down. As a result, Nahles refused to accept the position of general secretary.

Between 2005 and 2009, Nahles served on the Committee on Labour and Social Affairs. From 2008, she was also a member of the SPD parliamentary group's leadership under chairman Peter Struck.

Ahead of the 2009 elections, German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier included her in his shadow cabinet of 10 women and eight men for the Social Democrats’ campaign to unseat incumbent Angela Merkel as chancellor. [9] During the campaign, Nahles served as shadow minister for education and integration policies, being a counterweight to incumbent Annette Schavan. [10]

General Secretary of the SPD, 2009–2013

Nahles was elected as the SPD's secretary general in November 2009 at the party congress held in Dresden. [11] [12] She succeeded Hubertus Heil in the position, and worked together with new-elected party leader Sigmar Gabriel. Her appointment was widely seen as a signal the SPD would shift to the left. [13]

In her capacity as secretary general, Nahles oversaw the SPD's electoral campaign in 2013. [8] After the SPD's defeat in the federal elections, she was in charge of organizing a referendum among her party's 472,000 members before signing any coalition treaty with re-elected Chancellor Angela Merkel and her conservative bloc. In the negotiations to form a coalition government following the elections, Nahles was part of the 15-member leadership circle chaired by Merkel, Gabriel and Horst Seehofer.

At a three-day party convention held in Leipzig in November 2013, delegates re-elected Nahles to her post with reduced majority. She received 67.2 percent of members’ ballots. [14]

Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, 2013–2017

As Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs in Chancellor Angela Merkel's third Cabinet, Nahles has overseen the introduction of a national minimum wage for Germany, guaranteeing workers at least 8.50 euros per hour ($11.75). [15] Merkel had campaigned against a statutory minimum wage in 2013, saying it would threaten Germany's competitive edge and that wage-setting belonged in the hands of companies and employees; however, her party gave ground to the Social Democrats, who made the measure a condition for helping her stay in power for a third term. [16] In early 2015, however, Nahles bowed to pressure from Germany's eastern neighbours, particularly Poland, and suspended controls by state authorities to check whether foreign truck drivers were being paid the minimum wage. [17]

After having campaigned on the promise of early retirement for longtime workers during the elections, Nahles also managed the introduction of an early retirement law in 2014. The move, which – at expected total costs of about 160 billion euros between 2015 and 2030 [18] – is likely to be the most expensive single measure of the legislative period, [19] was sharply criticized as Germany grapples with an aging population and a shrinking work force and promotes austerity among its European Union neighbors. [20] In late 2014, Nahles also announced that the combined pension contributions from employers and employees would be cut by a total of 2 billion euros in 2015 due to the high level of reserves. [21]

Following annual negotiations between the Claims Conference and the German government in 2014, Nahles successfully introduced a proposal for extending German pension payments totaling 340 million euros ($461 million) for some 40,000 Holocaust survivors who were used by the Nazis in ghettos as laborers in exchange for food or meager wages. Most Holocaust survivors suffered serious malnutrition during World War II and also lost almost all of their relatives, leaving them with many medical problems and little or no family support network to help them cope. [22]

Following a succession of strikes that disrupted Germany's air and train travel in 2014, Nahles introduced a bill which amended labor laws to allow only one trade union to represent employees of one company in negotiating wage agreements, a move critics say in effect will deprive small unions of their right to strike. [23]

In 2015, Nahles commissioned an in-depth study to establish a definition of work-related stress and calculate its economic cost, leading to speculation that the study could pave the way for an "anti-stress act" as proposed by Germany's metalworkers' union. [24]

In response to rightwing populist assaults on chancellor Angela Merkel's liberal immigration policies, Nahles presented plans in early 2016 to ban EU migrants from most unemployment benefits for five years after their arrival. [25]

Leader of SPD in Bundestag, 2017–2019

After the Social Democrats experienced their worst result in German post-war history in the 2017 elections, their chairman Martin Schulz nominated Nahles to lead the party's group in the German Parliament. [26] She replaced Thomas Oppermann and is the first woman to serve in this role. [27] In the negotiations to form a fourth coalition government under Merkel, Nahles led the working group on social affairs, alongside Barbara Stamm and Karl-Josef Laumann.

Leader of the Social Democratic Party, 2018–2019

Nahles was elected as the first ever female leader of the Social Democratic Party on 22 April 2018 at the party convention in Wiesbaden. She won the election with 414 delegate votes, against her opponent Simone Lange, who received 172 delegate votes, which worked out as 66% to 27% respectively. [28] She succeeds Olaf Scholz who was acting leader for two months after the resignation of Martin Schulz who led the party to their worst election result since 1933. Nahles is the first female leader of the party in its 155-year history. Furthermore, this is the first time ever in German history that the country's two largest parties are led by women, the other being CDU with its leader Angela Merkel.

Nahles was widely credited with stewarding the party toward another coalition government with Merkel's Christian Democrats. [29]

Resignation, 2019

On 2 June 2019, Nahles announced that she would resign as SPD leader in the face of personal unpopularity, a major defeat for the SPD in the 2019 European Parliament election, and a record low result in the Forsa poll of 1 June 2019. She stated she would also resign as leader of the SPD parliamentary group in the Bundestag. [30]

Other activities

Political positions

Once a leading voice on the SPD's left, Nahles has moved steadily towards the centre. She is known as a provocative and occasionally brusque orator. [4]

Personal life

Nahles' partner was VW manager Horst Neumann from 1997 until 2007. [32] From 2010, she was married to art historian Marcus Frings with whom she has one daughter, born in January 2011. [33] In January 2016 the couple announced their separation. [34]

Nahles lives in the village of Weiler, where she was born. A Roman Catholic, she attends Sunday mass in the village regularly. [4] She resides on a farm that belonged to her great-grandparents. [35] Since 2017, she has an apartment in Berlin's Moabit district. [36]

Nahles enjoys horse riding. [35] Until an accident in 1986, she also was a track and field athlete. [37]

See also

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  1. "Ergebnisse - Der Bundeswahlleiter". Retrieved 2019-06-02.
  2. "SPD: Andrea Nahles tritt zurück". ZEIT ONLINE (in German). Retrieved 2019-06-02.
  3. "Schwesig, Dreyer, Schäfer-Gümbel: Trio soll SPD kommissarisch führen". 3 June 2019 via Spiegel Online.
  4. 1 2 3 Tobias Buck (February 28, 2018), New SPD leader courts German voters with pleas and provocation Financial Times .
  5. Janosch Delcker (27 September 2017), German Social Democrats brace for left-wing makeover Politico Europe .
  6. Andrea Nahles, 35 Financial Times , November 2, 2005.
  7. Judy Dempsey (November 1, 2005), Merkel is dealt another setback International Herald Tribune .
  8. 1 2 Patrick Donahue (December 15, 2013), Merkel’s Third-Term Cabinet: Social Democratic Party Ministers Bloomberg .
  9. Bertrand Benoit (July 30, 2009), Lagging SPD starts campaign Financial Times .
  10. Veit Medick and Markus Feldenkirchen (July 29, 2009), Germany's Election Pre-Game: Social Democrats to Announce Campaign 'Team Steinmeier' Der Spiegel .
  11. Haferkamp, Lars (2009-11-15). "Gabriel mit SPD-Parteitag hoch zufrieden". Vorwärts .
  12. "New SPD leaders flag fresh tax approach". The Local . 2009-11-15.
  13. Dave Graham (October 5, 2009), German parties start coalition talks Reuters.
  14. Brian Parkin and Birgit Jennen (November 15, 2013), German SPD Chief Set to Sell Party on Merkel Coalition Bloomberg .
  15. German Cabinet Approves National Minimum Wage The New York Times , April 2, 2014.
  16. Patrick Donahue (July 3, 2014), German Lawmakers Back Minimum Wage After Merkel Cedes to SPD Bloomberg News .
  17. Jeevan Vasagar (January 30, 2015), Germany suspends minimum wage for foreign truck drivers Financial Times .
  18. Henrik Böhme (February 3, 2015), Opinion: Minimum wage law is overbureaucratized Deutsche Welle .
  19. Erik Kirschbaum and Monica Raymunt (January 29, 2014), Germany Loosens Own Pension Rules While Asking EU for Austerity The New York Times .
  20. Melissa Eddy (June 30, 2014), After Tightening Pensions, Germany Eases Rules for Some The New York Times .
  21. Holger Hansen (November 6, 2014), Germany to cut pension contributions, free up 2 billion euros Reuters .
  22. German Parliament Extends Holocaust Pensions The New York Times , June 5, 2014.
  23. Andrea Thomas (December 11, 2014), Germany Looks to Curb Trade-Union Power Wall Street Journal .
  24. Philip Oltermann (September 18, 2014), Germany ponders ground-breaking law to combat work-related stress The Guardian .
  25. Stefan Wagstyl (April 28, 2016), Germany plans 5-year benefit ban for jobless migrants Financial Times .
  26. Emma Anderson (September 25, 2017), Schulz picks Nahles to lead SPD in German parliament Politico Europe .
  27. Janosch Delcker (27 September 2017), Germany’s SPD elects Nahles as parliamentary group leader Politico Europe .
  28. "Parteitag: Nahles mit 66 Prozent zur SPD-Chefin gewählt". (in German). Retrieved 2018-04-22.
  29. Madeleine Schwartz (April 22, 2018), Andrea Nahles: German SPD’s last hope Politico Europe .
  30. "German SPD leader Nahles quits as party's popularity hits low". 2 June 2019. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
  31. Members Central Committee of German Catholics.
  32. [ permanent dead link ], FTD, 14. November 2005
  33. "Nachwuchs: SPD-Generalsekretärin bringt Tochter zur Welt". 18 January 2011 via Spiegel Online.
  34. "Liebes-Aus nach fünf Jahren Ehe: Andrea Nahles und ihr Mann trennen sich". (in German). 2016-01-15. Retrieved 2016-01-16.
  35. 1 2 Michelle Martin and Andrea Shalal (February 8, 2018) Germany's SPD bets on first female chair in 154 years to revive fortunes Reuters .
  36. Miguel Sanches (December 27, 2017) Das Scheitern der SPD ist die große Chance für Andrea Nahles Berliner Morgenpost .
  37. Warum sich Andrea Nahles bestens mit Groschenromanen auskennt Stern , January 22, 2018.

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Party political offices
Preceded by
Hubertus Heil
Secretary General of the Social Democratic Party
Succeeded by
Yasmin Fahimi
Preceded by
Thomas Oppermann
Leader of the Social Democratic Party in the Bundestag
Succeeded by
Rolf Mützenich
Preceded by
Olaf Scholz
Leader of the Social Democratic Party
Succeeded by
Malu Dreyer
Manuela Schwesig
Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel
Political offices
Preceded by
Ursula von der Leyen
Minister of Labour and Social Affairs
Succeeded by
Katarina Barley