GERHARD SCHRöDER Biography - Polititians


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Name: Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder                                                       
Born: 7 April 1944 Mossenberg-Wöhren, Germany                                         
Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder (born April 7, 1944),                                       
German politician, was Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005.                         
A member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), he led a coalition           
government of the SPD and the Greens. Before becoming a full-time politician, he       
was a successful lawyer, and before becoming Chancellor he was Minister-president       
of the German state of Lower Saxony. Following the 2005 federal election, which         
his party lost, after three weeks of negotiations he stood down as Chancellor in       
favour of Angela Merkel of the rival Christian Democratic Union.                       
Schröder (often spelled Schroeder in English) was born in Mossenberg, in what is       
now North Rhine-Westphalia. His father Fritz Schröder, a lance corporal in the         
Wehrmacht, was killed during World War II in action in Romania on October 4,           
1944, a few months after Gerhard's birth. His mother Erika worked as an                 
agricultural laborer in order to support herself and her two sons.                     
Schröder completed an apprenticeship in retail sales in a Lemgo hardware shop           
from 1958 to 1961, then worked in a retail shop in Lage and after that as an           
unskilled construction worker and a sales clerk in Göttingen while studying at         
night school to gain a high school diploma. Still trying to a place at a               
university, in 1966 Schröder passed the Abitur test at Westfalen-Kolleg,               
Bielefeld. From 1966 to 1971 he studied law at the University of Göttingen. From       
1972 onwards, Schröder served as an assistant at Göttingen University. In 1976         
he passed his second law examination; he worked as a lawyer until 1990.                 
Schröder joined the Social Democratic Party in 1963. In 1978 he became the             
federal chairman of the Young Socialists, the youth organisation of the SPD. He         
spoke for the dissident Bahro, as did President Jimmy Carter, Herbert Marcuse           
and Wolf Biermann. In 1982 he wrote an article on the idea of a red/green               
coalition for a book at Olle & Wolter, Berlin, which later appeared in "Die Zeit".     
SPD- and SI-Chairman, Chancellor Willy Brandt, who reviewed Olle & Wolter at           
that time, had just asked for more books on the subject. In 1980 Gerhard               
Schröder was elected to the German Bundestag, and wore a sweater to parliament         
instead of the traditional suit. He became chairman of the SPD Hanover district.       
In 1985 Schröder met with East German leader Erich Honecker during a visit to           
East Berlin.                                                                           
In 1986 Schröder was elected to the regional parliament of Lower Saxony and             
became leader of the SPD group. After the SPD won the regional elections in June       
1990, he became Minister-President of Lower Saxony as head of an SPD-Greens             
coalition; in this position, he also won the 1994 and 1998 regional elections.         
Following his election as Minister-President in 1990, Schröder became a member         
of the board of the federal SPD. In 1997/98 he served as President of the               
Bundesrat, but he left the office on 27 October, three days before his term             
expired, when he became Chancellor as head of an SPD/Green coalition. At the 22         
September 2002 general elections, he secured another four-year term, with a             
narrow nine-seat majority (down from 21).                                               
After the resignation of Oskar Lafontaine as SPD Chairman in March, 1999, in           
protest at Schröder's adoption of a number of what Lafontaine considered "neo-liberal" 
policies, Schröder took over his rival's office as well. In February, 2004, he         
resigned as chairman of the SPD. Franz Müntefering succeeded him as chairman.         
On 22 May 2005 after the SPD lost to the Christian Democrats (CDU) in North             
Rhine-Westphalia, Gerhard Schröder announced he would call federal elections "as       
soon as possible". A motion of confidence was subsequently defeated in the             
Bundestag on 1 July 2005 by 151 to 296 (with 148 abstaining), after Schröder           
urged members not to vote for his government in order to trigger new elections.         
The 2005 German federal elections were held on 18 September 2005. After the             
elections neither Schröder's SPD-Green coalition nor the alliance between CDU/CSU       
and the FDP led by Angela Merkel achieved a majority in parliament, but the CDU/CSU     
had a stronger popular electoral lead by one percentage point. Since the SPD had       
been trailing the CDU by more than 15 points only weeks before the election,           
this outcome was a surprise — and attributed to Schröder's charisma and prowess       
as a campaigner. Polls consistently showed that he was much                             
more popular with the German people than Ms. Merkel. On election night, both           
Schröder and Merkel claimed victory and chancellorship, but after initially             
ruling out a grand coalition with Merkel, Schröder and Müntefering entered             
negotiations with her and the CSU's Edmund Stoiber. On 10 October it was               
announced that the parties had agreed to form a grand coalition. Schröder agreed       
to cede the chancellorship to Merkel, but the SPD would hold the majority of           
government posts and retain effective control of government policy. Merkel             
was elected chancellor on 22 November.                                                 
Schröder announced on 11 October that he would not take a post in the new               
Cabinet, and in November he confirmed that he would leave politics as soon as           
Merkel took office. On 23 November 2005, he resigned his Bundestag seat, and           
later joined Ringier AG Ringier, the publisher of some of the leading newspapers       
and magazines in Switzerland and Europe, as a Zurich-based political consultant         
and lobbyist.                                                                           
At the SPD conference in Karlsruhe on 14 November 2005 Schröder urged members of       
the SPD to support the proposed coalition, saying it "carries unmistakably,             
perhaps primarily, the imprint of the Social Democrats". Many SPD members had           
previously indicated that they supported the coalition, which would have               
continued the policies of Schröder's government, but had objected to Angela             
Merkel replacing him as Chancellor. The conference voted overwhelmingly to             
approve the deal.