Kurt Beck

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Kurt Beck at the Deutschlandfest 2011 in Bonn
Kurt Beck at the International Media Congress 2012

Kurt Beck (born February 5, 1949 in Bergzabern ) is a German politician ( SPD ). From 1994 to 2013 he was Prime Minister of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate and from 2006 to 2008 Federal Chairman of the SPD.

From 1993 to 2012 Beck was state chairman of the SPD Rhineland-Palatinate and from November 2006 to December 2008 Vice-President of the Socialist International . Since 2013 he has been chairman of the SPD-affiliated Friedrich Ebert Foundation .



Kurt Beck with his wife Roswitha, 2010

Kurt Beck was born as the only child of the bricklayer Oskar Beck and his wife Johanna, a housewife, in Bergzabern in the district of the same name . Both came from Kapsweyer in the south of the Palatinate . Beck grew up in Steinfeld in what is now the southern Weinstrasse district and lives there to this day.

In an interview, Beck reported that as a child he was ostracized in his home village due to neurodermatitis . According to Beck, this experience had an important influence on his political development.

After attending the Steinfeld elementary school from 1955 to 1963 , Beck completed vocational training as an electrical mechanic (specializing in electronics ) from 1963 to 1966 at the Bundeswehr repair shop in Bad Bergzabern. In 1967 he worked there as a radio electronics technician (foreman and group leader) and thus as a civilian employee . In 1968 he became chairman of the staff council at the Army Repairs plant. He was also district youth representatives, the District Council of staff Wehrbereichsverwaltung IV in Wiesbaden and a member of that union public services, transport and traffic (since 2001: United Services Union ). The military service rendered Beck from 1968 to 1969. From 1969 to 1972 he was again active in his profession and attended alongside the night school where 1971 he the average maturity acquired. In 1976 he became a member and from 1978 chairman of the district staff council at the Territorialkommando Süd in Heidelberg. He held this position until 1985.

Entry into local and state politics

In his youth he was active as a Catholic in the Christian youth workers . Beck joined the SPD in 1972. According to his statements, he was influenced by the Godesberg program and personalities such as Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt and Wilhelm Dröscher . He had been a member of the Southern Wine Route District Council since 1974 . In 1989 Beck was elected mayor of the local community Steinfeld. He gave up both offices in 1994.

Beck had been a member of the Rhineland-Palatinate state parliament since 1979 . For the 1991 state elections , a new right to vote was introduced, according to which, as in federal and state elections in other federal states, some of the representatives are elected through direct mandates in constituencies. From then until 2011 Beck competed in constituency 49 - Südliche Weinstrasse , which he always won directly. From 1982 to 1985 he was also the social policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group, from 1985 to 1991 parliamentary manager and from 1991 to 1994 parliamentary group chairman .

From 1993 to 2012 Beck was state chairman of the SPD in Rhineland-Palatinate. He was last confirmed in this office on June 26, 2010 at the state party congress in Idar-Oberstein with 98.4 percent of the delegate's votes. At the SPD state party conference on November 10, 2012, Roger Lewentz succeeded him as state chairman. For health reasons, Kurt Beck did not run again.

Prime Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate

Course of administration over five terms of office

Beck in conversation with citizens, 2005

When the Rhineland-Palatinate Prime Minister Rudolf Scharping switched to federal politics as party chairman of the SPD and chairman of the SPD parliamentary group after the federal election in 1994 , he proposed Beck, then chairman of the Rhineland-Palatinate SPD parliamentary group, as his successor. Beck was elected Prime Minister by the state parliament on October 26, 1994. Like Scharping, he initially relied on a social-liberal coalition .

In the state elections in 1996 , the party under Beck's leadership received 39.8 percent of the valid votes. The CDU received almost one percentage point less. In the 2001 state elections , the SPD won again, this time with 44.7 percent of the valid votes (CDU: 35.3 percent). In the following years Beck managed to increase his popularity considerably in the country, which is considered to be conservative. On November 12, 2005 he was again the top candidate of the SPD. In the state elections in 2006 , his party won the absolute majority of the seats with 45.6 percent of the valid votes . The result of the CDU had deteriorated again in this election and it reached only 32.8 percent of the valid votes, while the Greens with a result of only 4.6 percent missed their entry into the Rhineland-Palatinate state parliament for the first time since 1987. Beck's offer to the FDP (8 percent) to continue the coalition was rejected by the former coalition partner, so that the SPD became a sole government. When he was re-elected on May 18, 2006, Beck received 54 votes, one more than the SPD parliamentary group has members. During the sole government of the SPD between 2006 and 2011, there were several affairs and scandals, some of which are also attributed to Beck himself. The Schlosshotel and Nürburgring affairs should be mentioned here.

In the state elections on March 27, 2011 , for which Beck was nominated as the top candidate on November 6, 2010, the SPD's share fell by almost ten points to 35.7 percent of the vote, which was Beck's worst result since he took office. Despite the loss of the absolute majority, however, he was able to just maintain his position as the strongest force before the CDU and, since only three parties were represented in the state parliament due to the failure of the FDP, he could safely enter into a government alliance with the Greens . With the votes of the coalition, Beck was re-elected as Prime Minister for a further five-year term on May 18, 2011 by the Rhineland-Palatinate state parliament.

Beck is regarded as a politician close to the people who likes to approach people. During his reign, among other things, all-day schools and a free kindergarten year were set up in the field of school and social policy , the unemployment rate in Rhineland-Palatinate fell to around 7 percent - the third lowest value in Germany.

From November 1, 2000 to October 31, 2001, he was President of the Federal Council . From the resignation of Edmund Stoiber as Bavarian Prime Minister on October 9, 2007, Beck was the longest serving Prime Minister in Germany until his resignation.


Kurt Beck at the federal party conference of the SPD 2015 with his successor Malu Dreyer

On January 16, 2013, Beck resigned for health reasons; He announced this step in September 2012. Malu Dreyer was elected as his successor. Beck returned his state parliament mandate on February 5, 2013, his 64th birthday. Two days earlier he had been solemnly adopted by the SPD parliamentary group.

SPD party chairmanship and federal election 2009

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Kurt Beck, 2007

Beck had been Deputy Federal Chairman of the SPD since 2003, first under Gerhard Schröder , then under Franz Müntefering and then under the Brandenburg Minister-President Matthias Platzeck . After Platzeck had resigned the party chairmanship for health reasons, Beck took over the office on April 10, 2006 provisionally and was nominated by the Presidium as the only candidate for the ordinary party chairmanship. His final election took place at a special party conference on May 14, 2006 with 95.1 percent of the delegate's votes. Since November 7, 2006, Beck was also Vice President of the Socialist International .

Beck always kept open the question of a candidate for chancellor for the 2009 federal election , which he was repeatedly asked as party leader. However, Cablegate made it known that the Rhineland-Palatinate State Chancellery was preparing a potential candidacy as early as February 2007. After Frank-Walter Steinmeier was announced as a candidate for Chancellor for the 2009 Bundestag election at a party retreat on September 7, 2008, Beck, who had been campaigning for Steinmeier's candidacy for a long time internally, but saw himself neglected in external communication, said Examination his resignation as federal chairman. Beck explained in a press release that he did not see himself in a position to continue to exercise the office with the “necessary authority” “due to targeted false information” about Steinmeier's candidacy for chancellor. The party chairmanship was then temporarily taken over by Steinmeier until Franz Müntefering was elected Beck's successor at a party convention of the SPD in October.

further activities

After Peter Struck's death , Beck became chairman of the SPD-affiliated Friedrich Ebert Foundation in 2013 .

Beck has been a member of an advisory committee for the pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim since June 2013 .

Beck is the Federal Government Commissioner for the victims and survivors of the attack on the Berlin Christmas market in 2016.


Beck married the hairdresser Roswitha Starck in 1968, and his only son Stefan was born a year later. On December 30, 2015, Beck suffered a minor stroke.

Positions and Criticism

Internet blocking

When the controversial youth media protection state treaty failed in 2010 , which had been largely drawn up by the Rhineland-Palatinate State Chancellery, Beck threatened the state's youth protection authorities to issue blocking orders for Internet offers.

ZDF State Treaty

Against the background of a non-renewal of the expiring contract of Nikolaus Brender , the ZDF editor-in-chief at the time , Beck repeatedly complained about the excessive influence of politics on the station's personnel decisions. At the beginning of 2011, the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, together with the state of Hamburg, initiated by the Green Bundestag member Tabea Rößner , submitted a norm review application for the ZDF State Treaty to the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe , which was largely successful and led to the ZDF- Only one third of the television council consists of representatives from the federal and state governments and no longer any party representatives and the ZDF administrative council only consists of 30 percent representatives of the states (judgment - 1 BvG 1/11 - marginal number (1-135) of 25 . March 2014).

Nürburgring affair

In March 2010, Beck declared in the parliamentary committee of inquiry on the affair of the failed private financing of the leisure and tourism facilities on the Nürburgring : “At that time I should have pulled the rip cord because the deadline for the flow of money was not met”. The financing model promoted by his finance minister at the time, Ingolf Deubel , had failed because private investors repeatedly failed to make payments. Around half a billion euros has been invested by the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in leisure and tourism facilities at the racetrack since Beck took office in 1994, the value of which was estimated at 120 million euros in 2013. Beck had promised that the project would not cost taxpayers a single euro.

On July 18, 2012, Beck declared that the Nürburgring would go into bankruptcy. Among other things, the state has to guarantee a guarantee of 254 million euros, which was granted to the state-owned and now insolvent Nürburgring GmbH. Beck asked the state parliament to apologize at a special session convened on August 1, 2012. On August 23, 2012, the proposed CDU - faction a confidence vote . The majority of the SPD and the Greens in the state parliament rejected the motion of no confidence on August 30, 2012.

When he was approached by a critic on the subject during an interview on October 3, 2012, he insulted him with the words “Can you shut up when I give an interview? Just shut up! "And" You are not honest, you are stupid! "

On February 19, 2013 Beck testified as a witness in the Nürburgring proceedings. In doing so, he admitted political mistakes and blamed the global economic crisis for the problems on the racetrack.

Hartz IV

In 2006 Beck recommended to a Hartz IV recipient: "If you wash and shave, you will also find a job." In the same year, he advocated the introduction of a charitable obligation for Hartz IV recipients. Beck declared that “generally reasonable.” As the mayor of a small community, he himself also had welfare recipients able to work “painted railings or had stairs swept”.

High Moselle crossing

Beck supports the construction of a controversial, 175 million euro high Moselle bridge near Ürzig in the river section between Bernkastel-Kues and Traben-Trarbach as part of the expansion of the B 50 .

Affair about the Higher Regional Court in Koblenz

In the course of the appointment procedure for the presidential office of the Koblenz Higher Regional Court , the state government, in particular the Minister of Justice Heinz Georg Bamberger , was certified by the Federal Administrative Court as having breached the constitution. Beck expressed his confidence in the minister and, contrary to the reasoning of the judgment of the Federal Administrative Court, claimed that Bamberger had "acted in accordance with the previous case law". The closure of the Koblenz Higher Regional Court, announced by the red-green state government after the state elections in 2011, was viewed by the opposition and the media as a reaction to this affair. The Koblenz Administrative Court ruled on July 26, 2011 that the position of OLG President must be filled within four weeks despite the planned closure. Otherwise, a fine of 10,000 euros was threatened. The ongoing media pressure and resistance from the population caused the state government to have the proposed reform examined by a commission of experts. After its analysis, the commission of experts came to the conclusion that no significant savings could be achieved and therefore recommended that the merger be abandoned.

Criticism of a State Secretary's pension

Shortly before the run-off election for the mayor of Koblenz , the SWR expressed criticism in a media report of a retirement arrangement for the incumbent SPD mayor Joachim Hofmann-Göttig . The former state secretary for culture in the Beck cabinet was put into temporary retirement before the prime minister took over the office of mayor. This was justified with new cultural-political challenges. The payment of a higher pension as a State Secretary is criticized by the Rhineland-Palatinate Court of Auditors and the taxpayers' association. According to civil servants' law , however, the Prime Minister is entitled to retire state secretaries, even without justification.


Honorary positions and awards


Web links

Commons : Kurt Beck  - collection of images, videos and audio files
 Wikinews: Kurt Beck  - on the news

Individual evidence

  1. "God, you would have kept your mouth shut". faz.net , April 1, 2013, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  2. stj / apn / dpa: Rhineland-Palatinate: dream result for Kurt Beck. Focus Online , June 26, 2010, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  3. Jens König: Beck: The Provincial Chancellor. taz.de , June 14, 2007, accessed on January 6, 2017 .
  4. ^ Armin Lehmann: State election of Rhineland-Palatinate: Few votes will decide. tagesspiegel.de , March 13, 2016, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  5. ^ Arno Widmann: Beck resignation: a surprising heiress. fr-online.de , September 29, 2012, accessed on January 6, 2017 .
  6. ^ Beck is passed by the SPD parliamentary group after 34 years. welt.de , February 3, 2013, accessed on January 6, 2017 .
  7. ^ SPD party congress: Kurt Beck elected SPD chief. Tagesspiegel , May 14, 2006, accessed December 28, 2017 .
  8. Veit Medick : WikiLeaks revelation: Steinmeier dumped frustration with the US ambassador. In: Spiegel Online . December 6, 2010, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  9. im: Beck resignation: The personal statement in full. Focus Online, September 7, 2008, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  10. Officially: Steinmeier SPD candidate for chancellor - Beck resigns. Reuters, September 7, 2008.
  11. ^ New chairman of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung: Kurt Beck. Retrieved January 17, 2013 .
  12. Ex-Prime Minister: Kurt Beck becomes a pharmaceutical lobbyist. Spiegel Online, October 10, 2013, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  13. Mental torment and high costs. Der Tagesspiegel , December 4, 2017, accessed on December 4, 2017 .
  14. Former SPD leader: Kurt Beck suffers a stroke. Spiegel Online, January 9, 2016, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  15. Pirate Party of Rhineland-Palatinate criticizes the blocking orders proposed by Beck ( memento of January 30, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), December 2010
  16. No understanding for failed JMStV. Internet World Business, December 16, 2010, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  17. ^ Controversy over the influence of politicians: Beck sues against the ZDF State Broadcasting Treaty. In: Spiegel Online . November 30, 2010, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  18. Michael Hanfeld: Politicians as far as the eye can see. faz.net, October 14, 2013, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  19. Thomas Holl: Beck: "I should have pulled the rip cord". faz.net, March 23, 2010, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  20. ^ Matthias Bartsch: Expensive race track: Nürburgring tenants want to defend themselves. Spiegel Online, February 7, 2012, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  21. M. Buchenau: Nürburgring with amusement park is for sale . In: Handelsblatt . May 15, 2013, p. 17 .
  22. a b Heike Anger: Of bankruptcies, bad luck and breakdowns. In: Handelsblatt , August 2, 2012, p. 13.
  23. Thomas Holl: Total loss for the taxpayer. faz.net, July 18, 2012, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  24. Thomas Holl: Beck remains Prime Minister. faz.net, August 30, 2012, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  25. Beck's rabble: “Can you shut up?” Spiegel Online, October 4, 2012, accessed on January 6, 2017 .
  26. ^ Nürburgring trial: Kurt Beck admits political errors. volksfreund.de, February 19, 2013, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  27. Stefan Pauly: Beck: The global economic crisis as a reason for problems on the "Ring". (No longer available online.) Wochenspiegellive.de, February 19, 2013, archived from the original on February 24, 2013 ; accessed on January 6, 2017 .
  28. ^ Dpa: Kurt Beck: "First wash yourself". (No longer available online.) Stern.de , December 14, 2006, archived from the original on May 16, 2014 ; accessed on January 6, 2017 .
  29. Kurt Beck: Hartz IV receiver to the broom. stern.de, August 29, 2006, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  30. ^ Wit / dpa: Completed Hochmosel Bridge. "That's impressive when you stand on it". Spiegel Online, October 16, 2019, accessed November 16, 2019 .
  31. BVerwG, judgment of November 4, 2010 ( Memento of November 11, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), Az. 2 C 16.09, full text.
  32. Beck and Bamberger cast off angry opposition. volksfreund.de, November 11, 2010, accessed on January 6, 2017 .
  33. ^ "Bamberger affair" to blame for the closure of the Higher Regional Court in Koblenz? eifelzeitung.de, May 18, 2011, accessed on January 6, 2017 .
  34. ^ VG Koblenz, decision of July 26, 2011 , Az. 2 N 572 / 11.KO, brief information.
  35. VG Koblenz obliges Rhineland-Palatinate to decide on the judge's position under the threat of a fine. beck-aktuell.de, July 28, 2011. Accessed August 1, 2011.
  36. Beck pulls the rip cord in the OLG dispute. rhein-zeitung.de, August 11, 2011, accessed on January 6, 2017 .
  37. ^ Report of the expert panel . ( Memento of March 12, 2014 in the Internet Archive ; PDF) March 27, 2012.
  38. SWR-Mediathek ( Memento from November 7, 2017 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on November 4, 2017.
  39. ↑ The Court of Auditors criticized the pension in 2013. SWR, accessed on November 4, 2017 .
  40. ^ Dapd: SPD awards Kurt Beck with the Holger Börner Medal. derwesten.de, March 9, 2013, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  41. Die Rheinpfalz , July 6, 2012.