Friedrich Merz

Friedrich Merz (born 11 November 1955) is a German lawyer and politician. A member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), he served as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 1989 to 1994 and was elected to the Bundestag from 1994 until 2009, where he chaired the CDU/CSU parliamentary group from 2000 to 2002. Merz was a candidate in the 2018 CDU leadership election, placing second; he is running again in the 2021 leadership election.[1]

Friedrich Merz
2020-01-17 Friederich Merz 3788 (cropped).jpg
Leader of the Opposition
In office
29 February 2000 – 22 September 2002
ChancellorGerhard Schröder
DeputyMichael Glos
Preceded byWolfgang Schäuble
Succeeded byAngela Merkel
Bundestag Leader of the CDU/CSU Group
In office
29 February 2000 – 22 September 2002
DeputyMichael Glos
Preceded byWolfgang Schäuble
Succeeded byAngela Merkel
Member of the Bundestag
In office
16 October 1994 – 27 September 2009
Preceded byFriedrich Tillmann
Succeeded byPatrick Sensburg
Member of the European Parliament
In office
18 June 1989 – 12 June 1994
Personal details
Born (1955-11-11) 11 November 1955 (age 65)
Brilon, Arnsberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany
Political partyChristian Democratic Union
Other political
EducationUniversity of Bonn
WebsiteOfficial website
Military service
Allegiance Germany
Branch/service Bundeswehr
Years of service1976
UnitArmy (Heer) / Self-propelled artillery

Merz joined the CDU's youth wing in 1972 and is reputed to be a member of the Andean Pact, a powerful network formed by members of the CDU youth wing in 1979 during a trip to the Andes. After finishing law school in 1985 he worked as a judge and corporate lawyer before entering full-time politics in 1989 when he was elected to the European Parliament. After serving one term he was elected to the Bundestag, where he established himself as the leading financial policy expert in the CDU. He was elected chairman of the CDU/CSU group in the same year as Angela Merkel was elected chairwoman of the CDU, and at the time they were rivals for the leadership of the party.[2] In 2002, he stepped down as leader of the opposition in favour of Merkel and gradually withdrew from politics, focusing on his legal career and leaving parliament entirely in 2009. In 2004 he became a senior counsel with Mayer Brown, where he has focused on mergers and acquisitions, banking and finance, and compliance. He has served on the boards of numerous companies. In 2018 he announced his return to politics.

Merz has described himself as socially conservative and economically liberal, and is seen as a representative of the conservative and pro-business wings of the CDU.[3] He has been chairman of the Atlantik-Brücke association which promotes German-American understanding and Atlanticism, and is a staunch supporter of the European Union and NATO, having described himself as "a truly convinced European, a convinced transatlanticist."[4] Merz advocates a closer union and "an army for Europe."[5]

Merz is Roman Catholic and of French Huguenot descent on his mother's side. He is married to the judge Charlotte Merz, and they have three children. The work of Merz as a corporate lawyer has made him a multimillionaire. He is also a licensed private pilot and owns two airplanes.[6][7]

Background and early lifeEdit

Friedrich Merz was born in Brilon in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in then-West Germany to Roman Catholic parents Joachim Merz and Paula née Sauvigny.[8] His father was a judge and a CDU member until he left the party in 2007.[9] The Sauvigny family was a prominent patrician family in Brilon, of French Huguenot ancestry; his grandfather Josef Paul Sauvigny was a lawyer and served as mayor of Brilon from 1917 to 1937.[10][11][12]

After finishing his Abitur exam in 1975 Merz served his military service as a soldier with a self-propelled artillery unit of the German Army. From 1976 he studied law with a scholarship from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, first at the University of Bonn, later at the University of Marburg. At Bonn he was a member of KDStV Bavaria Bonn [de], a Roman Catholic student fraternity founded in 1844 that is part of the Cartellverband. After finishing law school in 1985, he became a judge in Saarbrücken. In 1986 he left his position as a judge in order to work as an in-house attorney-at-law at the German Chemical Industry Association in Bonn and Frankfurt from 1986 to 1989.[13]

Merz speaks German, French and English.[14]

Political career prior to 2009Edit

In 1972, at the age of seventeen, he became a member of the CDU's youth wing, the Young Union,[8] and he has been described by German media as a member of the "Andean Pact," a supposed network of influential CDU members formed by members of the Young Union during a trip to the South American Andes region in 1979.[15] He became President of the Brilon branch of the Young Union in 1980.

Member of the European Parliament, 1989–1994Edit

Merz successfully ran as a candidate in the 1989 European Parliament election and served one term as a Member of the European Parliament until 1994. He was a member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and of the parliament's delegation for relations with Malta.

Member of the German Bundestag, 1994–2009Edit

From the 1994 German elections, he served as member of the Bundestag for his constituency, the Hochsauerland. In his first term, he was a member of the Finance Committee.

In October 1998 Merz became vice-chairman and in February 2000 Chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group (alongside Michael Glos), succeeding Wolfgang Schäuble. In this capacity, he was the opposition leader in the Bundestag during Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's first term.

Ahead of the 2002 elections, Edmund Stoiber included Merz in his shadow cabinet for the Christian Democrats’ campaign to unseat incumbent Schröder as chancellor. During the campaign, Merz served as Stoiber's expert for financial markets and the national budget.[16] After Stoiber's electoral defeat, Angela Merkel assumed the leadership of the parliamentary group; Merz again served as vice-chairman until 2004. From 2002 to 2004, he was also a member of the executive board of the CDU, again under the leadership of Merkel.

Between 2005 and 2009, Merz was a member of the Committee on Legal Affairs. By 2007, he announced he would not be running for political office in the 2009 elections.

Career in the private sectorEdit

Upon leaving politics, Merz has worked as a corporate lawyer. Since 2004 he has been a Senior Counsel at Mayer Brown's Düsseldorf office,[17] where he works on the corporate finance team; before 2004 he was a senior counsel with Cornelius Bartenbach Haesemann.[18] His work as a lawyer has made him a multimillionaire.[19] He has also taken on numerous positions on corporate boards, including the following:

Between 2010 and 2011, Merz represented the shareholders of WestLB, a publicly owned institution that had previously been Germany's third-largest lender, in talks with bidders.[26] In 2012, he joined Norbert Röttgen’s campaign team for the North Rhine-Westphalia state election as advisor on economic policy.[27] He served as a CDU delegate to the Federal Convention for the purpose of electing the President of Germany in 2012[28] and in 2017.

In November 2017, Merz was appointed by Minister-President Armin Laschet of North Rhine-Westphalia as his Commissioner for Brexit and Transatlantic Relations, an unpaid advisory position.[29][20]

Return to politicsEdit

After Angela Merkel announced her intention to step down as Leader of the CDU party, Merz announced he would run in the subsequent party leadership election in December 2018.[1] His candidacy was promoted by the former CDU chairman and "crown prince" of the Kohl era, Wolfgang Schäuble (current President of the Bundestag, ranked second in federal precedence).[30] In the second round of the leadership election, Merz was defeated by Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. On February 25, 2020, he announced his candidacy in the CDU leadership election.[31]

Political positionsEdit

Merz has focused on economic policy, foreign and security policy and family policy. He has described himself as socially conservative and economically liberal, and is seen as a representative of the conservative and pro-business wings of the CDU.[3] He has been chairman of the Atlantik-Brücke association which promotes German-American understanding and Atlanticism, and is a staunch supporter of the European Union and NATO. As a young politician in the 1970s and 1980s, he was a staunch supporter of anticommunism, the dominant state doctrine of West Germany and a core tenet of the CDU. In 2018, he described himself as "a truly convinced European, a convinced transatlanticist" and said that "I stand for a cosmopolitan Germany whose roots lie in Christian ethics and the European Enlightenment and whose most important political allies are the democracies of the West. I gladly use this expression again: The democracies of the West."[32][4] He especially advocates closer relations between Germany and France. Merz has criticized Donald Trump more harshly than Angela Merkel did and has especially criticized Trump's trade war against Europe.[33] In 2018, he co-authored an article in defence of the European project, which among other things called for "an army for Europe."[5] In July 2018, Merz rejected the Ludwig Erhard Prize, citing objections to publications by the chairman of the Ludwig Erhard Foundation, Roland Tichy, considered by some to be on the extreme right.[34] In November 2018 Merz said, that the introduction of same-sex marriage in Germany is correct.[35]

Other activities (selection)Edit

  • Deutsche Nationalstiftung, Member of the Senate[36]
  • Peace of Westphalia Prize, Member of the Jury[37]
  • Bayer Foundation for German and International Labor and Business Law, Member of the Board of Trustees (1998-2002)
  • KfW, Member of the Supervisory Board (2003-2004)[38]
  • Ludwig Erhard Foundation, Member (1998-2005)

Personal lifeEdit

Friedrich Merz is married to the judge Charlotte Merz. He has three children and resides in Arnsberg in the Sauerland region. In 2005, the couple established the Friedrich und Charlotte Merz Stiftung, a foundation supporting projects in the education sector.[39]

On 17 March 2020 Merz was tested positive for COVID-19.[40]


  1. ^ a b Berlin, Kommentar von Stefan Braun (2018). "Die große Zeitenwende ist eine Chance für die CDU". (in German). ISSN 0174-4917. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  2. ^ Huggler, Justin (31 October 2018). "Merkel rival Friedrich Merz emerges as surprise early frontrunner to succeed chancellor". The Telegraph – via
  3. ^ a b Escritt, Thomas (2018-10-31). "Conservative contenders vie to overturn Merkel's centrism". Reuters.
  4. ^ a b WELT (31 October 2018). "Merz will CDU-Chef werden: "Wir brauchen Aufbruch und Erneuerung, keinen Umsturz"". Die Welt – via
  5. ^ a b "Time to wake up: We are deeply concerned about the future of Europe and Germany". Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  6. ^ "Ex-CDU-Star Friedrich Merz und der Karriereknick - manager magazin".
  7. ^ "Hat Friedrich Merz wirklich zwei Flugzeuge?". November 28, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Lohse, Eckart; Berlin. "Friedrich Merz: Dieser Kandidat passt nicht auf einen Bierdeckel". – via
  9. ^ "Parteien: Friedrich Merz' Vater verlässt die CDU im Groll". Die Welt. February 12, 2007 – via
  10. ^ "Sauvigny," Deutsches Geschlechterbuch, Vol. 38
  11. ^ Claus Jacobi, Im Rad der Geschichte: Deutsche Verhältnisse, p. 166, Herbig, 2002
  12. ^ "Merz, Friedrich," in Munzinger Online
  13. ^ "Friedrich Merz - Atlantik-Brücke e.V." Atlantik-Brücke e.V. (in German). Archived from the original on 2018-10-31. Retrieved 2018-10-30.
  14. ^ Friedrich Merz, Senior Counsel, Mayer Brown
  15. ^ Schumacher, Hajo (3 November 2005). "Union: "Anden-Pakt" nimmt Friedrich Merz auf" – via Spiegel Online.
  16. ^ Wahlkampf: Stoiber-Team ohne Kompetenz bei den Staatsfinanzen Spiegel Online, January 22, 2002.
  17. ^ "Friedrich Merz". Archived from the original on 2012-04-06. Retrieved 2011-11-14.
  18. ^ Riedel, Donata (December 23, 2004), "Nicht süchtig nach Politik: Friedrich Merz", Handelsblatt.
  19. ^ "Long march: The man who would be chancellor: Merz's delayed political comeback". Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  20. ^ a b Ministerpräsident Armin Laschet beruft Friedrich Merz zum Beauftragten für die Folgen des Brexits und die transatlantischen Beziehungen Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia, press release of November 7, 2017.
  21. ^ Eyk Henning (January 17, 2016), BlackRock Hires Former Merkel Deputy for Its German Operations Wall Street Journal.
  22. ^ Wechsel im Aufsichtsratsvorsitz der Axa Konzern AG Axa Konzern AG, press release of July 24, 2007.
  23. ^ Merz im Verwaltungsrat der Schweizer Stadler Rail Group Handelsblatt, March 28, 2006.
  24. ^ Felix Holtermann (April 12, 2019), Friedrich Merz verlässt HSBC-Aufsichtsrat Handelsblatt.
  25. ^ 2010 Annual Report Interseroh.
  26. ^ Jack Ewing (February 16, 2011), For Germany’s Banks, a Grim Future New York Times.
  27. ^ Rainer Kellers (March 23, 2012), Merz soll Wirtschaftskompetenz zeigen: Der "alte Freund" und das Nicht-Comeback Westdeutscher Rundfunk.
  28. ^ Ordentliche Mitglieder der 15. Bundesversammlung Bundestag.
  29. ^ Christian Wernicke (November 7, 2017), Regierungsjob für Friedrich Merz Süddeutsche Zeitung.
  30. ^ "Merkel-Nachfolge: Schäuble beförderte Merz' Kandidatur für CDU-Vorsitz". – via
  31. ^ Berlin, Berliner Morgenpost- (2020-02-25). "Friedrich Merz kandidiert - und schießt gegen Laschet und Spahn". (in German). Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  32. ^ Blick (2018-10-31). "Wer ist Friedrich Merz? Merkels Nachfolger für den CDU-Parteivorsitz".
  33. ^ "Merkel's Would-Be Successor Is a Real Conservative". 2018-11-01. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  34. ^ Plickert, Philip (16 July 2018). "Ärger für die Ludwig-Erhard-Stiftung". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
  35. ^ Wallstreet Online: Merz hält Einführung der Ehe für alle for richtig (german)], 8 December 2018
  36. ^ Senate, Deutsche Nationalstiftung.
  37. ^ Members of the Jury Wirtschaftliche Gesellschaft für Westfalen und Lippe.
  38. ^ 2004 Annual Report KfW.
  39. ^ About Friedrich und Charlotte Merz Stiftung.
  40. ^ Friedrich Merz mit Coronavirus infiziert, March 17, 2020

External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by
Ferdinand Tillmann
Member of the Bundestag
from North Rhine-Westphalia

Succeeded by
Patrick Sensburg