Markus Thomas Theodor Söder (born January 5, 1967 in Nuremberg ) is a German politician ( CSU ). He has been Prime Minister of the Free State of Bavaria since March 16, 2018 and CSU party chairman since January 19, 2019 .
Söder has been a member of the Bavarian State Parliament since 1994 . From 2007 to 2008 he was Bavarian State Minister for Federal and European Affairs , from 2008 to 2011 Bavarian State Minister for Environment and Health and from 2011 to 2018 Bavarian State Minister for Finance, Regional Development and Homeland . Söder was the CSU's top candidate for the state elections on October 14, 2018 .
Söder grew up with his sister in a conservative- evangelical embossed artisan family in Nuremberg Schweinau on. His father Max († 2002), who was a bricklayer , and his mother Renate Söder († 1994) ran a small construction company in Nuremberg . Söder has been married to Karin Baumüller-Söder , a business graduate since 1999 , with whom he has a daughter (* 2000) and two sons (* 2004, * 2007). Another daughter (* 1998) comes from a seven-year relationship before the marriage.
From 1977 Söder attended the Dürer grammar school in Nuremberg . After graduating from high school in 1986 (grade point average 1.3), he did basic military service in Transport Battalion 270 in Nuremberg
. From 1987 he studied law at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg as a scholarship holder of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung . After passing the first state examination in 1991, Söder worked for a year as a research assistant at the chair for state , administrative and church law at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. In 1998 Söder was at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg with his dissertation From old German legal traditions to a modern community dictation. The development of local legislation in Bavaria on the right bank of the Rhine between 1802 and 1818 to become Dr. jur. PhD .
From 1992 to 1993 he did a traineeship at Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR) , after which he worked as an editor at BR in Munich until 1994 . In 2003, in addition to his mandate in the state parliament, Söder was head of central corporate communications at Baumüller Holding, his father-in-law Günter Baumüller's (1940-2017).
Söder wore eccentric costumes at Mardi Gras until his election as Prime Minister . For example, he disguised himself as the magician Gandalf for the television session Carnival in Franconia in 2010 , as Paul Stanley from the rock band Kiss in 2011 and as a punker with his wife in 2012 . In 2013 he appeared on the same occasion as Drag Queen , in 2014 as Shrek , 2015 as Mahatma Gandhi , 2016 as Edmund Stoiber , in 2017 together with his wife as Homer and Marge Simpson and in 2018 as Prince Regent Luitpold von Bayern . In his appearances since his election as Prime Minister, he appeared on February 22, 2019 in a suit and with a brightly colored bow tie, without further costumes and justified this with his new office.
Since his studies, Söder has been a member of the Teutonia Nuremberg fraternity in the Schwarzburgbund .
Söder is an Evangelical Lutheran denomination and was a member of the regional synod in Bavaria until April 2018 . He has his residence in Nuremberg.
As a teenager, Söder was an admirer of Bavaria's then Prime Minister Franz Josef Strauss : “Strauss, this power clockwork, this titan of words, I really liked. I even had a huge poster of Strauss, almost larger than life. I lived in our house under a sloping roof and there was this poster. So when I woke up, I looked directly at Strauss on the ceiling. In later years this turned out to be not that easy when a friend was there and Strauss saw her first. [...] But I really liked Strauss. ”Söder became a member of the CSU and the Junge Union (JU) in 1983 . He remained a JU member until he reached retirement age in 2003 and was regional chairman of the JU Bavaria from 1995 to 2003.
Party career in the CSU
From 1997 to 2008 Söder was chairman of the CSU district association Nuremberg-West. He has been a member of the CSU Presidium since 1995. In 2000 he was appointed head of the CSU media commission.
From November 17, 2003 to October 22, 2007 Söder was Secretary General of the CSU. He was a member of the working group that drafted the government program of the Union parties for the 2005 Bundestag election .
In 2008, Söder succeeded Günther Beckstein, who was elected Prime Minister, as CSU district chairman of Nuremberg-Fürth-Schwabach. In 2015 he was confirmed in office with 98% at the CSU district party conference.
On January 19, 2019, Söder was elected to succeed Horst Seehofer as chairman of the CSU at the CSU party conference in Munich with 87.4 percent of the vote . He is the first CSU chairman of the Protestant faith.
Söder has been a member of the Bavarian State Parliament for the Nuremberg-West constituency since 1994 . Like others sponsored by Edmund Stoiber, he is counted in the so-called 94 group. From 1999 to 2003 Söder was deputy chairman of the inquiry commission “With new energy into the new millennium” and, by virtue of his office as CSU general secretary, was a member of the board of the CSU parliamentary group from 2003 to 2007.
On October 16, 2007, Söder was sworn in as Minister of State for Federal and European Affairs in the Beckstein cabinet. After the state elections in Bavaria in 2008 , he was appointed Minister of State for Environment and Health in the Seehofer I cabinet . In November 2011 he succeeded Georg Fahrenschon as Bavarian State Minister of Finance. In the Seehofer II cabinet he was Minister of State for Finance, Regional Development and Homeland since October 2013 .
After a power struggle between Söder and Prime Minister Horst Seehofer that lasted for months, he announced his resignation as Bavarian Prime Minister for the first quarter of 2018 on December 4, 2017. In contrast, he wanted to remain in the office of CSU chairman. Seehofer specified his announced resignation from the office of Prime Minister in writing at the beginning of March at the end of March 13, 2018.
On March 16, 2018, Söder was elected Prime Minister in the Bavarian state parliament with an absolute majority of 99 of the 169 votes cast in the first ballot. 64 MPs voted no, 4 abstained, 2 votes were invalid.
On December 4, 2017, Söder was unanimously nominated as the top candidate for the Bavarian state election in 2018 by the CSU parliamentary group in an open vote . The CSU party executive also approved the decision. Söder was officially named the top candidate on December 16, 2017 at the CSU party conference in Nuremberg. In the 2018 state elections on October 14, 2018, the CSU lost an absolute majority, but was clearly the strongest party with 37.2%. Söder formed a coalition with the Free Voters ( Söder II cabinet ) and was re-elected as Prime Minister on November 6 with 110 of 204 votes cast.
Functions in supervisory boards and other bodies
Söder is a member of the Internet Advisory Board of the Bavarian State Government . To December 2008 Söder was also a member of the ZDF - Television Council . Söder was a member of the supervisory board of 1. FC Nürnberg from 2007 to 2011 ; since 2011 he has been active in the association's advisory board. Söder is a permanent member of the supervisory board of the Nuremberg Exhibition Center and is also chairman of the supervisory board, alternating with the Lord Mayor of Nuremberg , Ulrich Maly . He was on the Supervisory Board of Flughafen Nürnberg GmbH and chaired it between March 2017 and July 2018. He was also Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Flughafen München GmbH .
Possible candidate for chancellor in 2021
Since the COVID-19 pandemic and the announced withdrawal of Angela Merkel after the federal election in 2021 as Federal Chancellor , Markus Söder has been seen by political observers as the Union’s joint candidate for chancellor. According to current surveys (as of summer 2020), Söder is the favorite of voters for the Union's candidacy for chancellor . Although the Bavarian Prime Minister keeps making it clear that his place is in Bavaria , there are increasing indications that Söder is not averse to running for chancellor in 2021.
Political positions and controversies
As CSU general secretary, Söder received criticism not only from his political opponents, Söder was also at times controversial within the CSU because of his political style. He has been accused of focusing too much on populist issues, for example when he campaigned for the continued existence of the children's program Our Sandman on German television and, in the debate about the better integration of immigrants, suggested that the Bavarian schools regularly use German Singing national anthem. Even in his early years in politics, Söder relied heavily on populist issues.
After taking office as European Minister in October 2007 ( Beckstein Cabinet ), Söder aimed to raise the profile of the content in the areas of environmental policy and genetic engineering . He criticized the positions of Chancellor Angela Merkel and the CDU on genetic engineering. At the same time, Söder was considered relatively open-minded towards the Greens .
In 2004, Söder spoke out against Turkey's accession to the EU and in favor of the controversial headscarf ban for teachers in Bavarian schools. In April 2004, he said that “crucifixes and no headscarves” belong in schools and claimed that “ typical German virtues such as willingness to perform , punctuality and discipline ” were “lost”. Söder declared in 2007 that he was against a "misunderstood dialogue without results" with Muslim immigrants. He demanded that anyone who wants to live in Germany permanently must fully adhere to local values. Those who do not admit to it have no future here. In 2010, Söder advocated a full veil ban .
In light of the refugee crisis in 2015 , Söder questioned the fundamental right to asylum . He criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel and called for better protection of Europe's external borders . In addition, he speculated about possible fences on the border with Austria , which CSU party leader Horst Seehofer rejected. The link between his position on asylum policy and the terrorist attacks of November 13, 2015 in Paris earned him above all criticism, again from Seehofer and other Union politicians.
In March 2018, Söder agreed in an interview with ZDF to Horst Seehofer's statement that Islam does not belong to Germany. At the same time, however, he emphasized that the Muslims who lived in Germany, paid taxes, worked, contributed and moved on the basis of German values, were an integral part of society.
In 2018, Söder called for traditional values to be preserved when it came to day nursery places: “Of course we have and will keep fixed basic values that we also set as our ideal goals. Marriage and family are what most people want and strive for in their lives. Part of our civic tolerance is that we have our values and want to live by them ”.
Labor market policy
In 2006, Söder spoke out in favor of allowing more company alliances in the system of the general collective agreement and by relaxing the protection against dismissal for new hires to expand the possibilities of fixed-term employment. He rejected the introduction of a statutory minimum wage . Söder took a very strict stance towards ALG II recipients. Among other things, he advocated canceling their vacation, expanding the incentives to take up work, improving the additional earning opportunities when taking up work and at the same time reducing the ongoing support payments.
In 2006, Söder called for a clear ban on blasphemy in criminal law in the debate about the MTV cartoon series Popetown , for which the station advertised with a laughing Christ rising from the cross in front of a TV set . If the Church and the Pope were ridiculed in a cartoon series for young people, it had "nothing to do with satire". He demanded that Section 166 of the Criminal Code should be expanded to include specific protective facts. Religious symbols should "finally be legally protected". After Volker Beck had declared that Section 166 of the Criminal Code was “no longer up to date” and “a relic from the pre-Enlightenment period”, Söder replied: “Volker Beck is crazy.” He explained that the protection and respect for religious feelings were among “our fundamental values Society". With the CSU there will therefore "never" be an abolition of the criminal law prohibition of blasphemy. Instead, a tightening of the paragraph is necessary to better protect religious symbols from denigration.
In connection with the decision of the Bavarian state government initiated by Söder on April 24, 2018 that a cross should be placed in every office building in the Free State from June 1, 2018 , Söder stated: "The cross is not a sign of a religion"; rather, the cross reflects "our Bavarian identity and way of life". The decision sparked a controversial discussion across Germany. Representatives of the Christian churches disagreed. CSU General Secretary Markus Blume described the critics of the decision as an "unholy alliance of religious enemies and self-deniers".
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier distanced himself from the cross resolution:
“'I'm not a referee for the decisions that were made in Bavaria. But there are a couple of constitutional standards that can be used, 'he said. 'The Federal Constitutional Court decided very early in 1995 that the cross symbolizes the essence of Christianity, so to speak, and therefore, as Cardinal Marx said, should not be filled by the state, but by the church.' The state governments would have to take this into account. As a professed Christian, he must also say: 'What we lack in church on Sundays, the cross in the authorities will not be able to replace.' "
The former chairman of the Synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany , Katrin Göring-Eckardt , Green Party leader in the German Bundestag, called the decision “shameful” for Christians. The FDP chairman Christian Lindner criticized Söder the cross to a cultural icon represents and thus from its Christian significance have separated. The former President of the Bundestag and SPD politician Wolfgang Thierse , who belongs to the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), emphasized that Söder was not allowed to use the Christian symbol of the cross in connection with his election campaign : “The state of the Basic Law is ideologically religiously neutral, that is , he is open to all confessions. "
"The cross cannot be prescribed" criticized the Archbishop of Munich and Freising and chairman of the Catholic German Bishops' Conference , Cardinal Reinhard Marx , Söder with unusually sharp criticism . The measure created "division, unrest, opposition". Anyone who only sees the cross as a cultural symbol has not understood it. "Then the cross would be expropriated in the name of the state." It is not up to the state to explain the meaning of the cross, said Marx in the holiday edition of the Süddeutsche Zeitung. It is a "sign of contradiction against violence, injustice, sin and death, but not a sign against other people". Marx considered the social debate about the cross to be important, but everyone should be included: Christians, Muslims, Jews and those who are not at all believers. The Catholic auxiliary bishop of Munich, Wolfgang Bischof , declared that the cross was not a symbol for Bavaria "and certainly not an election campaign logo"; to the Prime Minister the Bavarian identity seems to be more important than the cross. “Anyone who wants to act in the spirit of the cross must put people at the center of their actions, especially those in need.” In the interests of credibility, it is appropriate to convince with deeds instead of symbolic politics that are effective in the media.
The Bund der Deutschen Katholischen Jugend Bayern ( BDKJ ) and the Evangelische Jugend Bayern ( EJB ) sent a joint and open letter to Söder and his cabinet. They are "personally shocked and affected" by what they perceive as the "political-national appropriation" of the cross.
The Council Chairman of the Evangelical Church in Germany and Regional Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria , Heinrich Bedford-Strohm , also contradicted Söder and stated that "the cross is first and foremost a religious symbol". Although he welcomed the decision to place the crosses in authorities, he also pointed out that those who adopt Christianity just to legitimize their own goals did not understand the cross. He warned against "using the cross as a defense against others". This also applies to refugees.
The Regensburg bishop Rudolf Voderholzer and the Evangelical Lutheran regional bishop Hans-Martin Weiss , however, welcomed the decree of the cross in a joint letter. Also Curia Archbishop Georg Gänswein welcomed the decision. The association “ Forum German Catholics ” also supported the project. "Our culture rests on a Christian foundation". The cross is - in contrast to Söder's statement that the cross is “not a sign of a religion” - “a visible sign of a religion that calls for non-violence, even includes love of enemies and promotes charity”, according to the Forum German Catholics. The cross does not threaten anyone and also protects people of different faith and non-believers.
In Bavaria, according to surveys, Söder's move was approved by a majority of 53 to 56% of eligible voters; and 38 to 42% reject it. According to an Emnid survey, however, 64% of all Germans and also the majority of Catholics and Protestants reject the official cross-duty; 29% were in favor. A column in Spiegel online rated the obligation to cross as an advertisement by the CSU to attract AfD voters in the state election in Bavaria in 2018 .
Against the pardon of the RAF terrorist Christian Klar
When Söder announced in May 2007 that he would refuse to vote for the then Federal President Horst Köhler in the event of a pardon for the former RAF terrorist Christian Klar , this also met with criticism from within his own ranks. Söder had previously spoken out repeatedly against a pardon for Klars, as Klars continued his anti-imperialist agitation from prison . Klar was not pardoned, but, like other convicted murderers, was released early on parole .
About the hygiene scandal at Müller-Brot (2010–2012) , when large amounts of cockroaches , mouse droppings, etc. a. Baked goods contaminated with pollutants were sold to consumers, Söder, as the Minister of Health, presumably knew as early as 2010. The Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety , which is under his control, did not finally stop production until 2012. In the discussion about informing consumers, it was demanded that food processing companies should be obliged to publish control results. 15 federal states voted for the introduction of a nationwide hygiene traffic light for food companies; Söder, on the other hand, vetoed Bavaria and prevented its introduction. In this context, the federal chairman of the Federal Association of Food Inspectors also expressed a lack of understanding for the procedure in the Müller-Brot case. It cannot be that the consumer does not find out about the 21 controls that have taken place since 2009, the goods that have been recalled several times and the total of 69,000 euros in fines and penalties imposed.
Dealing with public broadcasters
On October 26, 2012, it became known that Söder's spokeswoman, Ulrike Strauss, had criticized Bayerischer Rundfunk for a report by telephone because it contained what she believed was a negative tone about the then Environment Minister Söder. According to his own statement, Strauss made this telephone call without Söder's knowledge. The contribution was not broadcast, according to Bayerischer Rundfunk, however, not because of the intervention.
On 3 November 2012 wrote Spiegel Online , that Söder in his time as Secretary General from 2003 to 2007 is said to have tried on several occasions to the reports of the ZDF to influence; Among other things, there was a call to ZDF director Markus Schächter about this . At that time Söder was a member of the ZDF television council . Söder also tried to influence the guest lists in the ZDF morning magazine and in the political talk show Maybrit Illner .
In January 2015, Söder had a guest appearance in the daily soap Dahoam is Dahoam , in which he listed the achievements of the Bavarian state government and his ministry. Because of this appearance, the BR was accused by the chairman of the Bavarian Association of Journalists of allowing themselves to be obviously abused and of being far removed from the requirement of being removed from the state. The process triggered a discussion within the BR and in numerous media about the proximity of the station to the CSU. In the BR Broadcasting Council, the legal advisor of the Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation, Albrecht Hesse, presented the "violations of program principles in the Söder episode". BR director Ulrich Wilhelm also decided not to allow any further appearances of politicians in the series.
As a result of the debacle over the Bayerische Landesbank , the Free State had to give it a massive financial support. These subsidies were only tolerated by the European Union under the condition that the Landesbank parted ways with its residential subsidiary GBW or that it sold a large part of its real estate portfolio. Söder refused to participate in the bidding process for 32,000 GBW apartments on behalf of the Free State and to keep them in public ownership. Ultimately, Patrizia AG won the bid, which a consortium of affected municipalities led by the state capital Munich outbid. In order to protect the tenants, Söder assured a "Social Charter XXL". However, due to loopholes in the purchase agreement, complaints about the conversion of rented apartments into owner-occupied apartments, the resale of apartments to third parties or painful rent increases increased among tenants' associations throughout Bavaria.
In July 2018, Söder announced that a state-owned housing association, newly established under the name “BayernHeim”, would build 10,000 affordable apartments in Bavaria by 2025. In April 2019, he clearly rejected calls for the expropriation of large housing associations and justified this with, among other things, constitutional concerns.
Greek sovereign debt crisis
In the context of the Greek sovereign debt crisis , after the victory of the left-wing SYRIZA in the parliamentary elections in Greece in January 2015 , Söder warned against making concessions to the government of the new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras . Söder described the need for Greece to adhere to existing contracts and commitments and described a haircut as useless. He described a "basic European consensus" and pointed out that there should be no additional burdens for Germany. After referring to his earlier demands for Greece to leave the euro zone, Söder stated, "The question of a Grexit does not arise now." In February 2015, Söder described the consequences of a Grexit for the other euro countries as manageable. He described the consequences for Greece itself as "dramatic" in view of the expected asset losses. Söder voted in favor of unyielding negotiations with the Greek government.
After the rejection of the reform referendum by the Greeks on July 5, 2015 and the resignation of the Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis , Söder described a Grexit as the fairest and most honest way. In the event of yielding to Greece, he described a risk that other countries could show similar behavior. Söder interpreted the resignation of Varoufakis as "another show element in the Greek tragedy".
In 2018, Söder announced a Bavarian space initiative ( Bavaria One ) before the state elections . With investments of 700 million euros, Bavaria is to become a leader in European space travel . One of the plans is to promote a Hyperloop test track. In the draft budget for 2019/2020, the first 30 million euros were set aside for the project, 25 million euros of which went to the establishment of a satellite competence center. Among other things, the establishment of Europe's largest aerospace faculty in Ottobrunn with 50 professorships and around 2000 study places under the umbrella of the Technical University of Munich and the expansion of the DLR site at the previous space control center in Oberpfaffenhofen are to follow.
Environment and climate policy
As early as 2007, Söder called for a ban on new registrations of cars with conventional combustion engines from 2020 and their replacement by hydrogen and hybrid technology . When, after the 2017 federal election, during the failed exploratory talks to form a Jamaica coalition, the exit from the internal combustion engine was one of the main points of contention between the CSU and the Greens, Söder's demand at the time caused a stir in social media. When asked, Söder confessed to the CSU election program, which excluded a ban on combustion engines.
After the popular initiative “Save the bees” initiated by the ÖDP had a great success, Söder took it over in April 2019 as a legislative project of the state government. There was resistance to this from within the own party as well as from the coalition partner Free Voters and from the farmers. A round table convened by Söder and chaired by Alois Glück with environmentalists and representatives of the peasantry was supposed to bring the positions of the two sides closer, but was only partially successful. Since Söder also named topics such as climate protection and renewable energies as primary goals, critics spoke of a “greening” of the CSU.
In the course of the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic , Söder saw Bavaria as a border region faced with different challenges than the countries in central Germany, which is why he and his cabinet were one of the first state governments to decide to impose exit restrictions to contain the virus . In doing so, he drew on previous experience from neighboring countries with more advanced pandemics by adapting the concept of exit restrictions to Austria's measures “one-to-one” after a discussion with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz . A few days earlier, Söder had refrained from postponing the local elections in Bavaria as a possible source of infection, as all precautions had been taken and he considered the risk of infection by going to the ballot box to be low. Although the public also criticized him in this context, his crisis management was praised nationwide. His decision caused some confusion among some colleagues, as the exit restrictions decided by Bavaria preceded a conference call scheduled for two days later to find a nationwide uniform procedure. The Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia and candidate for the CDU party chairmanship, Armin Laschet , is said to have accused Söder of breaking an express agreement for a joint vote. At the meeting, Laschet presented his own strategy paper that he had drawn up with eleven other prime ministers. Also Manuela Schwesig , the Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern , should Söder have criticized for having organized just as head of the Prime Minister Conference no consistency. Further criticism was expressed by Volker Bouffier ( Hessen ) and Stephan Weil ( Lower Saxony ). Söder later said he was satisfied with the nationwide similar regulations adopted at the meeting and defended Bavaria's exit restrictions by stating that one could not wait another two days because the country was particularly affected by the crisis.
- Bavarian Constitutional Medal in silver
- 2010: Bavarian Order of Merit
- 2013: "Sparlöwe" of the Association of Taxpayers in Bavaria for "excellent services to the taxpayer"
- 2016: Order against seriousness
- 2018: Order against the envious hammers of the Nuremberg air fleet of the Prince Carnival
- 2020: Karl Valentin Order
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|ALTERNATIVE NAMES||Söder, Markus Thomas Theodor (full name)|
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||German politician (CSU), Member of the Parliament, Minister of State|
|DATE OF BIRTH||5th January 1967|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Nuremberg|