Heide Simonis

Heide Simonis (German pronunciation: [ˈhaɪdə ziˈmoːnɪs]; born 4 July 1943 in Bonn as Heide Steinhardt) is a German Author and Politician.[1][2] She is a member of the SPD. From 1993 to 2005 she served as the Minister-President of Schleswig-Holstein. She was the first woman to serve as head of a state government in German history and the only woman to do so in the 20th century.

Heide Simonis
Heide Simonis.jpg
Simonis in 2009
Minister-President of Schleswig-Holstein
In office
19 March 1993 – 27 April 2005
DeputyClaus Möller (1993–1996), Rainder Steenblock (1996–2000), Annemarie Lütkes (2000–2005)
Preceded byBjörn Engholm
Succeeded byPeter Harry Carstensen
Deputy Minister-President of Schleswig-Holstein
In office
10 March 1993 – 19 March 1993
Appointed byBjörn Engholm
Preceded byGünther Jansen
Succeeded byClaus Möller
Schleswig-Holstein Minister of Finance
In office
5 May 1988 – 19 March 1993
Appointed byBjörn Engholm
Preceded byRoger Asmussen
Succeeded byClaus Möller
Member of the Bundestag
In office
3 October 1976 – 8 June 1988
Member of the Kiel Municipal Council
In office
Personal details

(1943-06-04) 4 June 1943 (age 78)
Bonn, Germany
Nationality Germany
Political party
Social Democratic Party (SPD)
Alma materUniversity of Kiel, University of Erlangen–Nuremberg

Personal Life and EducationEdit

Simonis earned her high school degree (Abitur) in 1962 in Nürnberg.[3] She then studied Economics and Sociology at the Universities of Erlangen-Nürnberg and Kiel, graduating with a degree in economics in 1967.[4][5] She worked in different positions after 1967.

Simonis is married to university professor Udo Simonis.[4]


Simonis in 1970

Simonis joined the SPD in 1969.[4] She was elected to the German Bundestag in 1976. In 1992, she became a member of the legislature of Schleswig-Holstein. On 19 May 1993, she was elected Minister-President of said state, after her predecessor Björn Engholm resigned from that position due to a scandal.[4] She was the first woman in Germany to rise to this level in politics.

The state election in 1996 saw the SPD drop down to 39.8% (from 46.2% in 1992), but Simonis was able to form a coalition with the Greens. In February 2000, at the height of a CDU party financing scandal, the SPD was able to enlarge its share to 43.1%. Despite basing its 2005 election campaign on Simonis' popularity, the SPD suffered a heavy defeat due to the bad economic situation and dropped down to 38.7% (for the first time in almost twenty years behind the CDU).

On 17 March 2005 Simonis failed to be re-elected as Minister-President of Schleswig-Holstein in 4 consecutive ballots by the Schleswig-Holstein Landtag.[6] In the 1st ballot she received 34 votes and Peter Harry Carstensen (CDU) received 33 while 2 deputies cast empty votes.[6] Neither Simonis nor Carstensen got the absolute majority (35 votes).[6] In the 2nd and 3rd ballot the candidates received 34 votes each.[6] Obviously one deputy of the alliance of SPD, Grüne (Greens) and SSW abstained.[6] An unprecedented 4th ballot brought the same result and Simonis has since stepped down as Minister-President of Schleswig-Holstein.[6]


From 2005 until February 2008 Simonis served as Chief of the German UNICEF. She resigned from this position due to a scandal related to donations to the organisation that arose during her term.[7][8]


  1. ^ www.eheundjanneck.de, CMan-CMS by Ehe&Janneck (4 February 2011). "Heide-Simonis.de – Lebenslauf". www.heide-simonis.de (in German). Retrieved 26 April 2022.
  2. ^ www.eheundjanneck.de, CMan-CMS by Ehe&Janneck (13 January 2011). "Heide-Simonis.de – Autorin". www.heide-simonis.de (in German). Retrieved 26 April 2022.
  3. ^ "Wintergast: Heide Simonis". taz.de. 31 January 2008. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d Heed, Levke (3 January 2020). "1993: Heide Simonis wird erste Ministerpräsidentin". NDR.de (in German). Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  5. ^ "Ehemalige Ministerpräsidentin Schleswig-Holstein: Simonis, Heide". BR.de (in German). 8 July 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e f NDR. "17. März 2005: Ein Unbekannter stürzt Heide Simonis". www.ndr.de (in German). Retrieved 26 April 2022.
  7. ^ "Heide Simonis tritt zurück". stern.de (in German). 2 February 2008. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  8. ^ Nitschmann, Johannes (17 May 2010). "Das ist schon heftig". Retrieved 31 May 2017 – via Sueddeutsche.de.