Jens Spahn

Jens Spahn (born 16 May 1980) is a German politician currently serving as Federal Minister of Health in the fourth Merkel cabinet. He is a member of the lower house of the federal parliament, the Bundestag (German: Mitglied des Deutschen Bundestages, MdB) for Steinfurt I – Borken I and is a member of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), which governs in partnership with the centre-left Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD).

Jens Spahn
MJKr01695 Daniel Funke und Jens Spahn (NRW-Empfang, Berlinale 2020) cropped.jpg
Spahn 2020
Minister of Health
Assumed office
14 March 2018
ChancellorAngela Merkel
Preceded byHermann Gröhe
Parliamentary State Secretary for Finance
In office
3 July 2015 – 14 March 2018
ChancellorAngela Merkel
MinisterWolfgang Schäuble
Peter Altmaier (acting)
Preceded bySteffen Kampeter
Succeeded byChristine Lambrecht
Member of the Bundestag
for Steinfurt I and Borken I
Assumed office
22 September 2002
Preceded byConstituency established
Personal details
Born (1980-05-16) 16 May 1980 (age 40)
Ahaus, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany
Political partyChristian Democratic Union
Spouse(s)Daniel Funke
Alma materUniversity of Hagen

Spahn was the youngest member of the CDU in the German parliament, having been elected in 2002 at age 22. He has since then served in the 15th, 16th and 17th Bundestags and is one of the main sponsors of pension reform in Germany. He is a member of the Committee of Health of the 17th Bundestag and chair of the working group on health and health policy as well as the spokesman of the CDU/CSU health parliamentary group.

When Chancellor Angela Merkel stated her intention not to seek re-election for the CDU party leadership in 2018, Spahn announced his intention to stand for election as her successor in December 2018.[1] He was eventually eliminated in the first round of voting; the position instead went to Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.[2] Following Kramp-Karrenbauer's decision to resign in February 2020, he announced that he would not run for the party's leadership but instead endorse candidate Armin Laschet.[3]

Early life and careerEdit

Spahn graduated in 1999 from the Episcopal Canisius school in Ahaus, North Rhine-Westphalia. In 2001 he completed an apprenticeship as a banker at the Westdeutsche Landesbank, and worked until 2002 as a bank clerk. In 2003, Spahn began studying political science and law at the University of Hagen. In 2008, he obtained a bachelor's degree, followed by a master's degree in the same field in 2017.[4]

Political careerEdit

Party positionsEdit

Spahn became a member of the Junge Union Deutschlands (JU) in 1995, aged 15. He went on to join the CDU in 1997. He was the chair of the Borken district JU from 1999 to 2006. In 2005, he also took up the chair of the Borken district CDU, which numbers 6,500 members.

In December 2014 Spahn unexpectedly stood for a place on the CDU's ruling council against health minister Hermann Gröhe, in a contest widely seen as crystallizing the generational tensions within the party. His election bid was backed by the then 72-year-old finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble.[5] Shortly before the vote at the annual CDU party conference, Gröhe withdrew his candidacy and Spahn was elected.[6]

He has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Angela Merkel as Chancellor,[7][8] and stood in the CDU leadership campaign in 2018 after Merkel announced that she would not seek re-election as party leader. However, the 157 votes he secured, despite being more than expected, was insufficient for him to qualify for the second round of voting, which was won by Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.[2]

Member of Parliament, 1999–presentEdit

Spahn has been a member of the Ahaus City Council since 1999.

Spahn first became a member of parliament in the 2002 elections. He has since won three consecutive elections in 2002, 2005 and 2009 in the constituency of Steinfurt I – Borken I. In 2005, he obtained 51.2% of first preference votes. In 27 September 2009 election, Spahn won again with 44.5% of the primary vote, earning a direct mandate.[9]

From November 2005, Spahn served as the vice-chair of the CDU/CSU working group on health policy, while at the same time chair of the CDU–CSU parliamentary group in the Committee of Health. He was also a member of the CDU–CSU–SPD coalition working group, which brought about the 2007 health reform. Since 2009, he has been chair of the working group on health and health policy as well as the spokesman of the CDU–CSU parliamentary group on health policy.

Spahn was a substitute member of the Budget Committee. He is part of the "Young Group" of the CDU–CSU parliamentary group. Spahn co-founded a cross-party group of young MPs pushing for the integration of intergeneration equity as a national objective into Germany's Basic Law.[10]

Between 2005 and 2013, Spahn served as deputy chair of the German–Dutch Parliamentary Friendship Group. Since 2014, he has been its chair.

In negotiations to form a government following the 2013 federal elections, Spahn led the CDU–CSU delegation in the health working group; his co-chair from the SPD was Karl Lauterbach.

Parliamentary state secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance, 2015–2018Edit

In 2015, Spahn became Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance under minister Wolfgang Schäuble in the third cabinet of Chancellor Angela Merkel. At the ministry, he oversaw the German government's annual budget. He was in charge of representing Germany in the negotiations on the annual budget of the European Union.[11]

Federal Minister of Health, 2018–presentEdit

In the fourth Merkel cabinet, Spahn was appointed Federal Minister of Health in March 2018, succeeding Hermann Gröhe. In addition, he has been serving as chair of the EPP Health Ministers Meeting, which gathers the center-right EPP ministers ahead of meetings of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO).[12]

In 2019, Spahn visited four countries in sub-Saharan Africa to witness up close the fight against Ebola.[13]

Political positionsEdit

Human rightsEdit

An economic liberal and openly gay Roman Catholic, Spahn has combined a platform of lower taxes and less red tape with support for same-sex marriage.[5] In 2012, he and twelve other CDU/CSU MPs united in their call for defending tax-law equality for couples registered in a civil union.[14] In a public vote in June 2012, he pushed for such legislation as well as to open marriage to same-sex partners, but the bill was denied by his own party and eventually defeated.[15] By 2013, Spahn and others considered signing on to a "group petition," in which they would publicly side with the opposition on expanding the rights of registered same-sex partnerships to include all the tax benefits given to married heterosexual couples.[16] As health minister, he introduced a law in 2019 to ban conversion therapy on under-18s, or coercing, deceiving or threatening anyone older into such treatment. Violators can be punished by up to a year in prison, while advertising or offering conversion therapy carry a fine of up to 30,000 euros.[17]

During the European migrant crisis, Spahn emerged as a vocal critic of Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee policy, arguing that their party had "perhaps put too much emphasis on the humanitarian approach".[18]

Pension policyEdit

In April 2008, Spahn voiced his opposition to grand coalition plans to increase pensions because such a "gift" to the "medium and long-term retirees" would cost a "lot of money". He particularly criticized the arbitrary intervention of federal labour minister Olaf Scholz in the form of a surprise announcement on pensions formula.[19]

This statement brought him strong criticism, especially from the Senior Citizens Union (Senioren-Union). Spahn received many insults and threats in the form of anonymous letters, inter alia, and complained of this in the media. The Senior Citizens Union announced it would do everything to prevent his re-election, but Spahn received the support of former president of Germany Roman Herzog.[20]

After the 2013 federal elections, Spahn criticized the coalition pact between CDU/CSU and the SPD for making too many concessions to the SPD on lowering the retirement age from 67 to 63 for some workers.[21]

Health policyEdit

As part of coalition negotiations, Spahn and others succeeded in bringing "core demands for a black and yellow health policy" against the opinion of some like Rolf Koschorrek, in the form of a rearrangement of the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). In order to do so, they asked for a "realignment at the top of the house staff". This is because the coalition agreement says that "the work of the IGWiG is checked" and "its decisions are respected". This came at a time when Peter Sawicki, the institute's director, had repeatedly voiced his opposition to the introduction of new medicine. Journalist Markus Grill wrote about "Operation Hippocrates", an alleged plot to replace Sawicki with a more pharmaceutical industry-friendly candidate.[22]

During his time in office, the German government introduced measure to make measles vaccinations mandatory for children and employees of kindergartens and schools.[23]

Other activitiesEdit

Corporate boardsEdit

  • Sparkasse Westmünsterland, member of the supervisory board (2009–2015)[24]
  • Mosaiques Diagnostics und Therapeutics AG, member of the supervisory board (2010–2012)
  • Signal Iduna Pensionskasse AG, member of the supervisory board (2005–2010)
  • Barmenia Insurances, member of the advisory board (2005–2008)

Non-profit organizationsEdit

  • German Forum for Crime Prevention (DFK), ex-officio member of the board of trustees (since 2018)[25]
  • World Economic Forum (WEF), member of the Europe Policy Group (since 2017)[26]
  • Deutsche AIDS-Stiftung, member of the board of trustees
  • Jugend gegen AIDS, member of the advisory board[27]
  • Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), member[28]
  • FernUniversität Hagen, member of the Parliamentary Advisory Board
  • Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation, Member of the board of trustees
  • Federal Cultural Foundation, member of the board of trustees
  • Atlantik-Brücke, member
  • Catholic Workers Movement (KAB), member
  • Humanitarian Aid Foundation for Persons infected with HIV through blood products (HIV Foundation), chairman of the board (since 2018)
  • German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU), member of the board of trustees (2015–2018)

Personal lifeEdit

Spahn is a self-described Roman Catholic and lives with his husband Daniel Funke, a German journalist, in Berlin's Schöneberg district.[29] In December 2017, the two married in a ceremony at Borbeck Palace in Essen, officiated by the city's mayor Thomas Kufen.[30][31] In an article of Süddeutsche Zeitung in July 2012, his homosexuality was mentioned for the first time.[32]


  1. ^ "Merz will CDU-Chef werden: "Wir brauchen in der Union Aufbruch und Erneuerung"". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). ISSN 0174-4909. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b Connolly, Kate (7 December 2018). "Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer elected Merkel's successor as CDU leader". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  3. ^ SPIEGEL, DER. ""Es kann nur einen Parteichef geben" - DER SPIEGEL - Politik". (in German). Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  4. ^ (, Deutsche Welle. "Germany's new health minister Jens Spahn: Young, conservative and ambitious | DW | 26 February 2018". DW.COM. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  5. ^ a b Stefan Wagstyl (7 December 2014), Political upstart challenges Germany’s greying leaders Financial Times.
  6. ^ Stefan Wagstyl (9 December 2014), Merkel eyes relief for German taxpayers Financial Times.
  7. ^ Oltermann, Philip (28 August 2016). "Jens Spahn: the man who could replace Merkel as chancellor". Retrieved 8 December 2018 – via
  8. ^ "Slowly, Germany begins to ponder life after Merkel". 19 January 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2018 – via
  9. ^ Ergebnisse Bundestagswahl 2009 im Wahlkreis Steinfurt I – Borken I Archived 11 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Stiftung für die Rechte zukünftiger Generationen - Generationengerechtigkeit". Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  11. ^ Quentin Ariès (15 November 2015), A grim conclusion to EU budget talks Politico Europe.
  12. ^ Council of the EU and Ministerial meetings European People’s Party (EPP).
  13. ^ Guy Chazan (4 November 2019), Hyperactive German minister revels in Merkel succession spotlight Financial Times.
  14. ^ Giersberg, Achim. "Vorstoß zur Homo-Ehe stößt auf Skepsis". Westfälische Nachrichten. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  15. ^ Endgültiges Ergebnis der Namentlichen Abstimmung Nr. 3, 187. Sitzung des Deutschen Bundestages am 28 June 2012.
  16. ^ Same-Sex Marriage Debate: Rogue Conservatives Mull Pro-Gay Petition Der Spiegel, 11 March 2013.
  17. ^ Rachel Savage (4 November 2019), German health minister submits law banning conversion therapy Reuters.
  18. ^ Michelle Martin (20 March 2016), Merkel ally says Germany has changed course in refugee crisis Reuters.
  19. ^ Stefan Braun (30 March 2008). ""Du Rotzlöffel" – Erlebnisse eines Rentnerkritikers". Retrieved 24 November 2010.
  20. ^ "Wenn die Alten zornig werden, Die Welt, 5 April 2008". Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  21. ^ Brian Parkin (9 December 2013), Merkel Faces Dissent From Party Ranks Over SPD Coalition Accord Bloomberg.
  22. ^ Grill, Markus (15 March 2010). "AFFÄREN: Operation Hippokrates". Retrieved 8 December 2018 – via Spiegel Online.
  23. ^ Germany introducing mandatory measles vaccination for kids Associated Press, 17 July 2019.
  24. ^ "Suche nach Sparkasse Westmünsterland: Jahresabschluss zum Geschäftsjahr vom 01.01.2009 bis zum 31.12.2009". Elektronischer Bundesanzeiger. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  25. ^ Board of Trustees German Forum for Crime Prevention (DFK).
  26. ^ Europe Policy Group World Economic Forum.
  27. ^ Advisory Board Jugend gegen AIDS.
  28. ^ Members Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS).
  29. ^ Online, FOCUS. "Konservativ, katholisch, schwul: Jens Spahn ist der Shootingstar der CDU". FOCUS Online. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  30. ^ Kati Degenhardt (23 December 2017), Merkels bester Mann: Jens Spahn hat heimlich geheiratet BILD.
  31. ^ "CDU". 10 December 2009. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  32. ^ Bohsem, Guido (12 July 2012). "Ein Mann wie eine Walze". Retrieved 8 December 2018 – via

External linksEdit