Markus Söder (born 5 January 1967) is a German politician serving as Minister President of Bavaria since 2018 and Leader of the Leader of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU) since 2019.

Markus Söder
2018-10-12 Markus Söder CSU 8339.JPG
Söder in 2018
Minister President of Bavaria
Assumed office
16 March 2018
DeputyIlse Aigner
Hubert Aiwanger
Preceded byIlse Aigner (Acting)
Leader of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria
Assumed office
19 January 2019
General SecretaryMarkus Blume
Preceded byHorst Seehofer
Minister of Finance, Regional Development and Home Affairs of Bavaria
In office
3 November 2011 – 21 March 2018
Minister PresidentHorst Seehofer
Preceded byGeorg Fahrenschon
Succeeded byAlbert Füracker
Minister of Health and the Environment of Bavaria
In office
20 October 2008 – 4 November 2011
Minister PresidentHorst Seehofer
Preceded byOtmar Bernhard
Succeeded byMarcel Huber
Minister of Federal and European Affairs of Bavaria
In office
16 November 2007 – 17 October 2008
Minister PresidentGünther Beckstein
Preceded byEmilia Müller
Succeeded byEmilia Müller
Member of the Landtag of Bavaria
for Nuremberg-West
Assumed office
25 September 1994
Majority13.1% (12,620)
Personal details
Born (1967-01-05) 5 January 1967 (age 52)
Nuremberg, West Germany (now Germany)
Political partyChristian Social Union

Political careerEdit

Career in Bavarian politicsEdit

Söder has been a member of the Landtag, the state parliament of Bavaria, since 1994. From 2003 to 2007 he was Secretary General of the CSU party; in this capacity, he worked closely with then Minister-President and party chairman Edmund Stoiber. During his time in office, he was also part of the CDU/CSU team in the negotiations with the SPD on a coalition agreement following the 2005 federal elections,[1] which paved the way to the formation of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s first government.

Söder has since been member of the Beckstein, Seehofer I and II cabinets. From 2007 to 2008 he was State Minister for Federal and European Affairs in Bavaria and from 2008 to 2011 State Minister for Environment and Health.

State Minister of Finance, 2011–2018Edit

As finance minister in the state government of Minister-President Horst Seehofer, Söder was also one of the state’s representatives at the Bundesrat, where he served on the Finance Committee.

During his time in office, Söder was put in charge of overseeing the restructuring process of ailing state-backed lender BayernLB in a bid to win approval for an aid package from the European Commission.[2] In 2014, he pushed BayernLB to sell its Hungarian MKB unit to that country's government, ending an ill-fated investment that had cost it a total of 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in losses over 20 years.[3] In 2015, Söder and his Austrian counterpart Hans Jörg Schelling agreed a provisional deal that settled the two governments’ array of legal disputes stemming from the collapse of the Carinthian regional bank Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank International. Under the memorandum of understanding, Austria would pay €1.23 billion to Bavaria. All legal cases relating to the dispute would also be dropped.[4]

Also in 2012, Söder and Minister-President Horst Seehofer filed a lawsuit in the Federal Constitutional Court, asking the judges to back their call for an overhaul of the German system of financial transfers from wealthier states (such as Bavaria) to the country's weaker economies.[5] On Söder’s initiative, Bavaria became the first regional government in Volkswagen's home country to take legal action against the carmaker for damages caused by its emissions-test cheating scandal. At the time, Söder argued that the state’s pension fund for civil servants had lost as much as 700,000 euros ($780,000) as a consequence of the scandal.[6]

When Seehofer came under pressure after the CSU had suffered heavy losses in the 2017 national elections, he decided to remain party chairman but agreed to hand over leadership of Bavaria to Söder.[7]

Minister-President of Bavaria, 2018–presentEdit

In March 2018, lawmakers formally elected Söder as new Minister-President to replace Horst Seehofer, who had become German interior minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new cabinet. He received 99 of the 169 state deputies’ votes, with 64 voting against — a better result than Seehofer when he began his final term in 2013.[8]

In January 2019, CSU delegates elected Söder to replace Seehofer as their leader with an 87.4 percent majority at a party conference. He was the sole candidate.[9]

Role in national politicsEdit

Söder was a CSU delegate to the Federal Convention for the purpose of electing the President of Germany in 1999, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2017.[citation needed]

In the negotiations to form a coalition government of the Christian Democrats (CDU together with the Bavarian CSU) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) following the 2009 federal elections, Söder was part of the CDU/CSU delegation in the working group on health policy, led by Ursula von der Leyen and Philipp Rösler.

In the negotiations to form a Grand Coalition of the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats (SPD) following the 2013 federal elections, Söder was part of the CDU/CSU delegation in the working groups on financial policy and the national budget, led by Wolfgang Schäuble and Olaf Scholz, and on bank regulation and the Eurozone, led by Herbert Reul and Martin Schulz.[10]

Other activities (selection)Edit

Corporate boardsEdit

  • Munich Airport, Ex-Officio Chairman of the Supervisory Board
  • Nuremberg Airport, Ex-Officio Member of the Supervisory Board, Chairman of the Supervisory Board (since 2017)[11]
  • KfW, Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Supervisory Directors (2011-2016)[12]
  • BayernLB, Ex-Officio Chairman of the Supervisory Board (211-2012)
  • ZDF, Ex-Officio Member of the Television Board (2002-2008, 2013-2016)

Non-profit organizationsEdit

Political positionsEdit

Söder during the MSC 2019

European integrationEdit

During the Greek government-debt crisis, Söder was among the most vocal in calling for Greece to leave the Eurozone.[14] By 2012, he said in an interview: "Athens must stand as an example that this Eurozone can also show teeth."[15]

In early 2018, Söder reiterated his opposition against any expansion of the eurozone to include countries like Bulgaria and Romania; the introduction of Eurobonds; and the creation of a European finance minister post.[16]

Domestic policyEdit

In 2012, under Söder’s leadership, Bavaria pledged €500,000 ($687,546) in public funding for the Munich-based Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ) to produce a critical, annotated version of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf for publication in 2015 when the copyright expired. Söder said at the time that the publication would aim to "demystify" Hitler's manifesto. By 2013, however, the Bavarian state government ended its funding for the project.[17]

Throughout the European migrant crisis, Söder has sharply criticized the migrant policies of Angela Merkel several times. He warned of a "huge security gap" that remained because the whereabouts of hundred thousands of migrants was still unclear and he strongly doubted that the integration of so many people could succeed. In Söder's view, the Germans didn't want a multicultural society. Refugees should return to their home countries whenever possible. The dictum "Wir schaffen das" ("We make it") of Chancellor Merkel was "not the right signal", instead he suggested "Wir haben verstanden" ("We have understood").[18]

In 2018, Söder's government enacted the Kreuzpflicht, an obligation to display crosses at the entrance of public buildings. Söder has stated that the crosses are not to be seen as Christian symbols, but as symbols of Bavarian cultural identity.[19]

During his campaign for the 2018 state elections, Söder appealed to traditionalists while also seeking to enhance Bavaria’s high-tech "laptops and Lederhosen" reputation with a promise of a new space programme for the state and more high-speed internet access.[20]

Personal lifeEdit

Söder has been married to Karin Baumüller since 1999; Baumüller is one of the owners of Nuremberg-based Baumüller Group, a leading manufacturer of electric automation and drive systems.[21] The couple have three children. In addition, Söder has a daughter from an earlier relationship.[22]

Söder is a Protestant.[23][24] He is also known for his extravagant costumes during the carnival season which have included Shrek and Marilyn Monroe.[25]


  1. ^ Am Montag soll auch Merkels Liste stehen Hamburger Abendblatt, October 14, 2005.
  2. ^ Christian Kraemer, Arno Schuetze and Foo Yun Chee (March 28, 2012), Owners of BayernLB agree on revamp Reuters.
  3. ^ Jörn Poltz and Krisztina Than (July 24, 2014), BayernLB sells unit MKB to Hungary Reuters.
  4. ^ James Shotter (July 7, 2015), Austria to pay Bavaria €1.23bn to settle Hypo Alpe Adria dispute Financial Times.
  5. ^ Christian Kraemer (July 17, 2012), Bavaria seeks to trump Merkel with anti-bailout card Reuters.
  6. ^ Joern Poltz and Andreas Cremer (August 2, 2016), German state of Bavaria to sue VW over emissions scandal Reuters.
  7. ^ Janosch Delcker (December 16, 2017), Horst Seehofer reelected leader of Merkel’s Bavarian allies Politico Europe.
  8. ^ Maxime Schlee (March 16, 2018), Markus Söder becomes Bavarian state premier Politico Europe.
  9. ^ Joern Poltz (January 19, 2019), Leader of Bavarian CSU promises new start with Merkel's party Reuters.
  10. ^ Matthias Sobolewski (October 30, 2013), German-Swiss tax deal could be revived, conservatives say Reuters.
  11. ^ Söder neuer Aufsichtsratsvorsitzender des Flughafens Nürnberg Nuremberg Airport, press release of March 31, 2017.
  12. ^ 2011 Annual Report KfW.
  13. ^ Board of Trustees Deutsches Museum.
  14. ^ Michelle Martin (July 29, 2015), Merkel's Bavarian ally says Grexit would cause 'utter chaos' Reuters.
  15. ^ James Angelos (December 7, 2012), Greece's Samaras Aims to Win Over Bavarians Wall Street Journal.
  16. ^ Andrea Shalal (February 14, 2018), Bavaria Fin Minister rejects eurozone expansion to Romania, Bulgaria Reuters.
  17. ^ Harriet Torry (December 12, 2013), Bavaria Ends Funding for Scholarly Edition of 'Mein Kampf' Wall Street Journal.
  18. ^ Flüchtlinge sind "riesige Sicherheitslücke in Deutschland", Die Welt, 26 August 2016, in German
  19. ^ France-Presse, Agence (2018-04-25). "Bavarian leader orders Christian crosses on all state buildings". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
  20. ^ Guy Chazan (September 14, 2018), Merkel’s ally tested on refugee crisis and far right in Bavaria Financial Times.
  21. ^ Claudia Urbasek (January 23, 2016), Profitiert Söders Familie von der Flüchtlingskrise? Nürnberger Zeitung.
  22. ^ Franz Solms-Laubach (May 24, 2007), Markus Söder und seine uneheliche Tochter Die Welt.
  23. ^ Frederick Studemann (June 12, 2018), Bavaria crosses a line to fend off the far-right Financial Times.
  24. ^ Joern Poltz (January 19, 2019), Leader of Bavarian CSU promises new start with Merkel's party Reuters.
  25. ^ Joern Poltz (January 19, 2019), Leader of Bavarian CSU promises new start with Merkel's party Reuters.

External linksEdit