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Kurt Hans Biedenkopf (born 28 January 1930) is a German politician. He was the 1st Minister President of the Free State of Saxony (one of Germany's federal states) from 1990 until 2002, as such serving as the 54th President of the Bundesrat in 1999/2000.
Early life and educationEdit
Born in Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Rhineland-Palatinate, Biedenkopf studied law, economics, and political science, including at Davidson College in North Carolina and at Georgetown University. He is a Master of Laws and holds a Dr. jur. (law doctorate). He worked as a researcher, lecturer, and professor at various German universities including those in Bochum, Frankfurt, and Leipzig.
Career in national politicsEdit
Kurt Biedenkopf is a member of the Christian-Democratic Union (CDU). He entered his professional political career when he became secretary general of the CDU in 1973, under the leadership of chairman Helmut Kohl. He resigned from that office after disagreements with Kohl and went on to become one of his fiercest rivals within the party.
From 1977 to 1983 Biedenkopf was a deputy chairman of the party. During the terms 1976-1980 and 1987-1990 he was a member of the Bundestag.
Career in North Rhine-WestphaliaEdit
In the 1980 state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, Biedenkopf unsuccessfully ran against the incumbent Minister-President Johannes Rau. He served as chairman of the CDU in North Rhine-Westphalia – the party’s largest chapter – until 1987, when he was succeeded by Norbert Blüm. In late 1989, he joined forces with Lothar Späth, Heiner Geißler, Rita Süssmuth and others in an unsuccessful effort to oust Kohl as CDU chairman.
Minister-President of Saxony, 1990-2002Edit
After the re-unification of Germany in 1990 Biedenkopf was elected as Minister-President in the newly formed state of Saxony. His party also won the subsequent elections in 1994 and 1999 with an absolute majority. He held his office until April 2002.
At the CDU's initiative, the state parliament resolved to declare Saxony a "free state" once again, recalling its 19th century history. Early in his tenure, Biedenkopf emerged as a kind of unofficial spokesman for the regions of East Germany. He enjoyed great popularity among a majority of the people of Saxony. Known for his autocratic leadership style, he was often referred to as "the Saxon king" or "King Kurt." During his time in office, he doubled outlays on primary and secondary education and sharply ramped up spending on research and development.
In 1979, it was revealed that Christel Broszey, Biedenkopf’s secretary in his position as deputy chairman of the Christian Democratic Party, disappeared and was presumed to have fled to East Germany. Media reported that Broszey had been a spy.
Before the introduction of the euro, Biedenkopf was the only German state leader to vote against the monetary union in the Bundesrat, the legislative body that represents the German states; he later argued that "Europe wasn't ready for that epochal step."
Life after politicsEdit
Between 2004 and 2006, Biedenkopf and Christine Bergmann served as ombudsmen, observing the impact of the Schröder government’s labour market reforms, with a mandate to advise government and parliament on any recommended revisions to it. In 2005, he was appointed by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to head a commission on the future of co-determination. Both Biedenkopf and Schröder later served as mediators in a 2006 conflict over privatization plans at German railway operator Deutsche Bahn; the plans eventually fell through.
In addition, Biedenkopf has been holding a number of paid and unpaid positions, including the following:
- Dresden Frauenkirche, Member of the Board of Trustees
- International Law Institute (ILI), Member of the International Advisory Board
- Independent Commission on Turkey, Member
- Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft, Member of the Board of Trustees
- Hertie School of Governance, Chairman of the Board of Trustees (2003-2010)
- Lions Club Germany Foundation, Member of the Board of Trustees
- Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen, Chairman of the Supervisory Board (1991-2015)
- Craig R. Whitney (September 26, 1976), German Professor Campaigns In Ruhr New York Times.
- Richard Levine, Milt Freudenheim and James F. Clarity (March 16, 1986), Kohl Is Facing A Second Inquiry New York Times.
- Harry Luck (January 28, 2010), Biedenkopf: „König Kurt“ und Kohls Rivale Focus.
- Maximilian Popp, Andreas Wassermann and Steffen Winter (February 25, 2016), What's Wrong with Saxony? A Search for the Roots of Fear and Racism Der Spiegel.
- John Tagliabue (March 11, 1991), Young Germans Still Flocking From East to West New York Times.
- Stephen Kinzer (September 15, 1994), State Voting In Germany Reveals Shift New York Times.
- Gail Edmondson (November 17, 2003), Commentary: Saxony Wakes From Its Slumber Bloomberg News.
- Stephen Kinzer (27 March 1993), Germany Considers Jew as President New York Times.
- Michael Getler (March 14, 1979), Spy Mania Grips Bonn After Defection Washington Post.
- Sven Böll, Christian Reiermann, Michael Sauga and Klaus Wiegrefe (May 8, 2012), New Documents Shine Light on Euro Birth Defects Der Spiegel.
- Hugh Williamson, Maike Rademaker and Richard Milne (July 7, 2005), VW scandal prompts call for labour relations review Financial Times.
- Schröder und Biedenkopf legen Schlichtungsvorschlag bei Bahn vor Rheinische Post, September 11, 2006.
- Board of Trustees Dresden Frauenkirche.
- International Advisory Board International Law Institute (ILI).
- Board of Trustees Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft.
- Kurt Biedenkopf Hertie School of Governance.
- Peter Anderson (September 9, 2015), Biedenkopf verlässt Meissen-Aufsichtsrat Sächsische Zeitung.
- Ministerpräsident Armin Laschet verleiht den Verdienstorden des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen an Gerhart Baum, Kurt Biedenkopf, Birgit Fischer und Reiner Priggen, State Government of North Rhine-Westphalia, press release of 23 August 2017.
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