Armin Laschet

Armin Laschet (born 18 February 1961) is a German politician and the current Minister-president of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, serving since 27 June 2017. He is one of five deputy leaders of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) at the federal level and leader of the party in his home state.

Armin Laschet
2019-11-23 Armin Laschet CDU Parteitag by OlafKosinsky MG 5910.jpg
Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia
Assumed office
27 June 2017
DeputyJoachim Stamp
Preceded byHannelore Kraft
Leader of the Christian Democratic Union in North Rhine-Westphalia
Assumed office
20 June 2012
DeputyRalph Brinkhaus
Karl-Josef Laumann
Jan Heinisch
Ina Scharrenbach
Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker
General SecretaryBodo Löttgen
Josef Hovenjürgen
Preceded byNorbert Röttgen
Deputy Leader of the Christian Democratic Union
Assumed office
5 December 2012
LeaderAngela Merkel
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer
Preceded byNorbert Röttgen
Minister for Generations, Family, Women and Integration of North Rhine-Westphalia
In office
22 May 2005 – 15 July 2010
Minister PresidentJürgen Rüttgers
Preceded byOffice created
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Member of the
Landtag of North Rhine-Westphalia
for Aachen II
Assumed office
14 May 2017
Preceded byDaniela Jansen
Member of the Landtag of North Rhine-Westphalia
In office
9 May 2010 – 14 May 2017
ConstituencyCDU State List
Member of the European Parliament
for Germany
In office
13 June 1999 – 24 June 2005
ConstituencyCountry Wide Party List
Member of the Bundestag
for Aachen I
In office
16 October 1994 – 27 September 1998
Preceded byHans Stercken
Succeeded byUlla Schmidt
Personal details
Born (1961-02-19) 19 February 1961 (age 59)
Aachen, West Germany
(now in Germany)
Political partyChristian Democratic Union
Spouse(s)Susanne Laschet
Alma materUniversity of Munich,
University of Bonn

Laschet earned a law degree and worked as a journalist before and during his early political career. In 1994 he was elected to the German Bundestag and in 1999 he became a Member of the European Parliament. In 2005 he entered state politics in North Rhine-Westphalia as a member of the state government. As a cabinet minister he was known for his liberal views and good relations with the immigrant community, earning him the nickname "Turkish Armin". In 2012 he became president of the state party, and he was elected Prime Minister of the state in 2017. He heads the Cabinet Laschet, consisting of his own CDU and the liberal FDP.

He was born to an observant Roman Catholic family of Wallonian origin; his father's parents were both of Belgian origin. He is married to Susanne Malangré, whom he met in a Catholic children's choir when they were children and who is of French-speaking Wallonian origin.

BackgroundEdit

Early life and educationEdit

Laschet was born in Burtscheid, a suburb of Aachen, near the Belgian and Dutch borders, to parents Heinrich Laschet and Marcella née Frings; he was raised in an observant Roman Catholic family.[1] His father was a mining engineer at a black coal mine and later became an elementary school teacher and headmaster.[2] The Laschet family is originally from Liège Province in Wallonia in modern Belgium where the family's ancestor Jacques (or Jacob) Laschet lived in Hergenrath in the 18th century; his paternal grandfather Hubert Laschet (1899–1984) moved from Hergenrath in Belgium to Aachen in the 1920s; his paternal grandmother Johanna Catharina Hubertina Wetzels (1900–1979) had been born in Aachen to parents who had just moved there from Welkenraedt in Belgium.[3]

He attended the Pius-Gymnasium in Aachen and studied law at the universities of Bonn and Munich, passing the first state examination in law in 1987. He studied journalism from 1986 to 1988. In Munich he became a member of K.D.St.V. Aenania München, a Catholic student fraternity that is member of the Cartellverband.

Laschet speaks fluent French.[4]

Laschet worked as a journalist and in the publishing industry from 1986 until 1991, among other things as Bonn correspondent for Bayerischer Rundfunk. He later served as editor-in-chief of the Catholic newspaper KirchenZeitung Aachen from 1991 until 1994. From 1995 to 1999, while also serving as a member of parliament, he was CEO of the Catholic publishing company Einhard-Verlag, which had previously been led by his father-in-law Heinrich Malangré.

FamilyEdit

He is married to his teenage sweetheart Susanne Malangré, whom he met as a child in a Catholic children's choir led by Susanne's father, prominent business executive Heinrich Malangré; they married in 1985.[5] The couple has two sons and a daughter.[6] The family resides in Aachen's Burtscheid district. His wife belongs to a prominent Aachen family of French-speaking Wallonian origin and is the niece of CDU politician and lord mayor of Aachen Kurt Malangré; the Malangré family moved from Haine-Saint-Pierre in Belgium to Stolberg to establish a glass production business in the second half of the 19th century.[7] His son Johannes Laschet is a blogger and model, who advises his father on fashion.[8]

Political careerEdit

Member of the German Bundestag, 1994–1998Edit

Following the 1994 national elections, Laschet became a member of the German Bundestag. He was on the Committee for Economic Cooperation and Development and on the Committee for European Union Affairs.

Member of the European Parliament, 1999–2005Edit

As Member of the European Parliament, Laschet served on the Committee on Budgets between 1999 and 2001 and on the Committee on Foreign Affairs between 2002 and 2005. In the latter capacity, he served as the Parliament's rapporteur on relations between the EU and the United Nations.[9]

Role in state politicsEdit

Under Minister-President (chief minister) Jürgen Rüttgers in North Rhine-Westphalia, Laschet served as State Minister for Generations, Family, Women and Integration from 2005 until 2010, and as State Minister for Federal Affairs, Europe and Media from 2010. In 2010, he unsuccessfully ran against Norbert Röttgen for the post of CDU chairman in the state.[10] When Röttgen resigned from that office in 2012, Laschet was elected as his successor. On 4 December 2012 he was elected as one of five deputy chairpersons of the national CDU party,[11] serving alongside Volker Bouffier, Julia Klöckner, Thomas Strobl and Ursula von der Leyen.

Laschet currently serves as state MP in the Landtag of North Rhine-Westphalia and also chairs the CDU's state chapter (Landesverband). Since 2014, he has been a member of the North Rhine-Westphalia Commission for Constitutional Reform, led by Rainer Bovermann.

In the negotiations to form a Grand Coalition of the Christian Democrats (CDU together with the Bavarian CSU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) following the 2013 federal elections, Laschet was part of the CDU/CSU delegation in the working group on energy policy, led by Peter Altmaier and Hannelore Kraft.

In November 2015, Laschet visited the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan to learn more about the plight of Syrians fleeing the violence in the ongoing Syrian civil war that erupted in 2011.[12] Between March 2015 and January 2016, he chaired the Robert Bosch Expert Commission to Consider a Realignment of Refugee Policy, an expert group convened by the Robert Bosch Stiftung.[13]

In November 2016, Laschet was elected leading candidate for the North Rhine-Westphalia state elections in May 2017.[14] He was a CDU delegate to the Federal Convention for the purpose of electing the President of Germany in 2017.[15]

Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia, 2017–presentEdit

Since 27 June 2017 Laschet has been the 11th Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia (Cabinet Laschet). As one of his state's representatives at the Bundesrat, he serves on the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Defence Committee.

Ahead of the CDU's leadership election, Laschet announced in February 2020 that he would run for the position of party chairman and his erstwhile rival Jens Spahn would stand as his deputy.[16] Polls subsequently showed voters rated Laschet's management of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany's most populous state poorly.[17]

Political positionsEdit

European integrationEdit

On European integration, Laschet seeks to strengthen the European Union on issues such as fighting international terrorism and organized crime, as well as energy policy. He also wants to see the President of the European Commission be elected directly by European voters.[18]

During the European debt crisis, Laschet called for an "open discussion" toward a broad solution to the debt crisis, of which Eurobonds could be a part.[19] He argued that a Greek exit from the Eurozone could trigger undesirable upheaval in southern Europe: "(An exit) could lead to instability in a NATO member state. Russia is standing ready with billions to help Greece in such a scenario."[20] In October 2011, he signed George Soros' open letter calling for more Europe in the single currency turmoil.[21]

In 2020 alone, Laschet met with President Emmanuel Macron three times. Alongside Jens Spahn, Laschet was invited by Macron of France to attend the 2020 Bastille Day celebrations in Paris, in a sign of gratitude for their role in helping French citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic in France.[22] In an honour reserved for special guests, Macron invited Laschet into the Elysee gardens.[23]

Social policyEdit

Laschet was a fierce defender of Chancellor Merkel's liberal migration policies during the European migrant crisis of 2015.[24]

In 2016, Laschet dismissed proposals for a so-called burqa ban as a "phony debate" and distraction from more pressing issues. However, his party later adopted this policy as a core issue.[25]

Ahead of a parliamentary vote in June 2017, Laschet expressed his opposition against Germany's introduction of same-sex marriage.[26]

In 2018, Laschet, described the treehouses protesting the destruction of Hambach forest as "illegally occupied areas" and stated that RWE had the right to clear the forest. "The state government is there to ensure that the law that applies is enforced," he said during a talk show on German public broadcaster WDR.[27]

ControversyEdit

While still an MEP and following a 2001 visit to the Middle East, Laschet reignited a controversy over EU funding for anti-Semitic textbooks used in Palestinian schools by comparing them to Nazi propaganda, prompting him to urge for more stringent controls over how funds earmarked for Israel and the Palestinian Authorities are spent.[28]

In 2004, the European Commissioner for Competition Mario Monti publicly rejected claims made by Laschet according to which a ban on German soccer team Alemannia Aachen’s bid to play important UEFA Cup matches in neighbouring Holland is a breach of the Union's anti-trust rules.[29]

In 2018, Laschet cancelled his appearances at the Ruhrtriennale arts and music festival due to the festival allowing supporters of the BDS movement to perform.[30]

Other activitiesEdit

Corporate boardsEdit

  • RAG-Stiftung, Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Trustees (since 2017)[31]

Non-profit organizationsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Armin Laschet". Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands. 14 March 2013.
  2. ^ "Armin Laschet im Porträt: Der Mann für den zweiten Blick".
  3. ^ Bernhard Willems, "Die früheren Grundherren des Bereiches von Eupen", Ostbelgische Chronik, Vol. 2, 1949
  4. ^ Matthew Karnitschnig (25 February 2020), The wannabe Merkels Politico Europe.
  5. ^ Armin Laschet: Immer unterwegs und meistens gut gelaunt
  6. ^ Matthew Karnitschnig (25 February 2020), The wannabe Merkels Politico Europe.
  7. ^ Hans Seeling: Wallonische Industriepioniere in Deutschland, Wahle 1983, p. 178
  8. ^ Prime Minister’s son lives in Bonn: Johannes Laschet works as blogger and model
  9. ^ David Cronin and Martin Banks (19 November 2003), Afghanistan drug trade still proving a tough nut to crack European Voice.
  10. ^ Patrick Donahue (17 August 2010), Germany’s Roettgen to Run for State CDU Leadership, Bild Says Bloomberg News.
  11. ^ hannover2012.cdu.de: Elections at the 25th party conference of the CDU in Germany
  12. ^ Helmut Rehmsen (30 November 2015), Gespräch mit Armin Laschet über Flüchtlinge in Jordanien: "Die Grenzen sind hier immer schon offen" Archived 12 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine WDR 2.
  13. ^ Robert Bosch Expert Commission to Consider a Realignment of Refugee Policy Robert Bosch Stiftung.
  14. ^ Armin Laschet ist CDU-Spitzenkandidat in NRW Bild, 26 November 2017.
  15. ^ Wahl der Mitglieder für die 16. Bundesversammlung Landtag of North Rhine-Westphalia, decision of 14 December 2016.
  16. ^ Guy Chazan (February 25, 2020), Armin Laschet in pole position to head Germany’s CDU Financial Times.
  17. ^ Paul Carrel (September 13, 2020), Would-be Merkel successor Laschet emboldened by local election win Reuters.
  18. ^ Melanie Amann, Peter Müller, René Pfister and Christoph Schult (25 June 2013), Chancellor Merkel Cools on European Integration Der Spiegel.
  19. ^ Jeff Black (16 August 2011), Eurobond Support Growing in Merkel’s CDU, Handelsblatt Reports Bloomberg News.
  20. ^ Matthias Sobolewski (27 August 2012), German lawmakers say "Grexit" not just economic risk Reuters.
  21. ^ George Soros and 95 others (12 October 2011). "As concerned Europeans we urge Eurozone leaders to unite". ft.com. Financial Times. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  22. ^ Maximilian Plück (July 14, 2020), Zeremonie in Paris: Macron lädt Laschet und Spahn zum Nationalfeiertag ein Rheinische Post.
  23. ^ Andreas Rinke and Paul Carrel (October 5, 2020), State premier Laschet is frontrunner to succeed Merkel: party sources Reuters.
  24. ^ Guy Chazan (February 25, 2020), Armin Laschet in pole position to head Germany’s CDU Financial Times.
  25. ^ Justin Huggler (19 August 2016), Germany proposes burka ban for schools, universities and public workers The Daily Telegraph.
  26. ^ "Ehe ist eine Beziehung zwischen Mann und Frau" Die Welt, June 29, 2017.
  27. ^ (www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. "German state set to clear out Hambach Forest treehouses | DW | 13 September 2018". DW.COM. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  28. ^ David Cronin (25 July 2001), Palestinian books remind me of Nazis, says German MEP European Voice.
  29. ^ Peter Chapman (9 June 2004), Monti backs UEFA foreign stadia rule European Voice.
  30. ^ "German governor boycotts anti-Israel music festival affiliated with BDS".
  31. ^ Board of Trustees Archived 20 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine RAG-Stiftung.
  32. ^ Board of Trustees Kunststiftung NRW.
  33. ^ Board of Trustees North Rhine-Westphalian Foundation for the Environment and Development (SUE).
  34. ^ Board of Trustees Bonner Akademie für Forschung und Lehre praktischer Politik (BAPP).
  35. ^ Members of the Jury Wirtschaftliche Gesellschaft für Westfalen und Lippe.
  36. ^ Board of Trustees St. Maria zur Wiese.
  37. ^ Presidium Archived 18 September 2016 at the Wayback Machine United Nations Association of Germany (DGVN).

External linksEdit

  Media related to Armin Laschet at Wikimedia Commons