Renate Künast

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Renate Künast in September 2017

Renate Elly Künast (born December 15, 1955 in Recklinghausen ) is a German politician ( Bündnis 90/Die Grünen ) and lawyer . She has been a member of the German Bundestag since 2002. She was Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection from 2002 to 2005 and leader of her party's parliamentary group from 2005 to 2013 . From 2014 to January 2018 she was Chair of the Legal Affairs Committee of the Bundestag .


education and profession

Künast grew up in a working-class family in Recklinghausen and her father wanted her to go to secondary school and start a family as soon as possible. She was able to get her to attend the Realschule . After graduating from high school , she switched to a technical college and obtained her technical diploma in 1973 . From the winter semester of 1973 to the summer semester of 1976, she studied social work at the Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences . A recognition year 1976/77 followed. From 1977 to 1979 she worked as a social worker at Berlin-Tegel Correctional Facility in West Berlin . In 1977 she began studying law at the Freie Universität Berlin , which she completed after ten semesters in 1982 with the first state examination in law. She completed her legal clerkship in the office of her fellow party member Wolfgang Wieland , among other places . She passed the second state examination in law in 1985 and joined Wieland's law firm. As a lawyer , she specialized in the areas of immigration law , criminal law and civil rights . With Wieland she went through important stages of her political career. For example, both of them led the parliamentary group of the Alternative List for Democracy and Environmental Protection in the Berlin House of Representatives for many years .

Political engagement in the alternative list

Renate Künast (far right) as a participant in a press conference by total objectors on January 17, 1990 in Berlin

In 1979, Künast joined the Berlin Alternative List (AL), which later joined the federal organization of the Greens and was considered a dedicated left-wing state association. Künast was involved in the anti-nuclear movement and lived for a time in the " Republic of Free Wendland " near Gorleben . Since then she has been under the surveillance of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution for many years, even as a member of parliament .

Member of the Berlin House of Representatives

In March 1985 , Künast was elected to the Berlin House of Representatives, from which she left in 1987 due to the principle of rotation . In 1989 she became a member of parliament again and remained so until 1999 – rotation had since been abolished in the AL .

After the surprising victory in the elections to the House of Representatives on January 29, 1989 , a red-green coalition between the Berlin Social Democrats and the AL replaced the previous CDU/FDP government under Eberhard Diepgen . Walter Momper became the governing mayor . Renate Künast was part of the negotiating delegation that negotiated the coalition agreement. When in March 1990 the leader of the AL parliamentary group, Heidi Bischoff-Pflanz , resigned out of disappointment at the increasing number of failures within the governing alliance, Renate Künast was elected her successor. Her close cooperation with the SPD faction leader Ditmar Staffelt kept the coalition alive. However, Künast was also instrumental in terminating the government alliance in an impetuous and offensive manner after the clearance of Mainzer Strasse . While she was originally considered a party leftist simply because she belonged to a decidedly left-wing state association, she actually practiced a course that was independent of the party wing and was increasingly appreciated by Realos like Joschka Fischer .

In the opposition, Künast remained the leader of the parliamentary group until 1993. She then concentrated again on her legal and political activities in the House of Representatives. From 1991 to 1994 she headed the Enquête Commission on Constitutional Reform of the House of Representatives. From 1993 to 1998 she was spokeswoman on legal policy for her parliamentary group.

From 1998 to 2000 she was again group leader. In the 1999 Berlin elections , Künast stood for the first time as her party's top candidate , but she did not claim to want to be the governing mayor in this election . Alliance 90/The Greens lost 3.3 percentage points and received 9.9 percent of the vote. Since a red-green majority did not come about, Künast remained group leader.

After the red-green victory in the Bundestag elections in 1998 , Künast also played a key role in shaping these coalition negotiations as legal policy spokeswoman for her party and was at times traded as a candidate for the justice department. In 1999 she was under discussion as a possible EU Commissioner .

Federal Chairwoman of Alliance 90/The Greens

After turbulence within the party and in the coalition, there were more and more voices calling for the hapless duo Antje Radcke and Gunda Röstel to be replaced. The "secret chairman" Joschka Fischer was now actively pursuing the replacement of the previous management duo and openly spoke out in favor of Künast as his successor. However, it was precisely this advocacy that brought the party left around Christian Ströbele and Jürgen Trittin into position against them. Although Fritz Kuhn was already a candidate from the right wing of the party for one of the two speaker posts and, according to internal party arithmetic, the other should have been filled by a woman from the left wing, Renate Künast was elected in June 2000 for lack of an equivalent alternative. Due to the principle of the separation of office and mandate , the election meant that Künast had to give up her seat as a member of parliament and the chair of the parliamentary group in Berlin.

Federal Minister and Member of the Bundestag

Renate Künast giving a speech (2006)

From January 12, 2001 to October 4, 2005, Künast took over the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Forestry in the first red-green federal government led by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder . At her suggestion, the former Ministry of Agriculture was expanded to include the area of ​​responsibility for consumer protection (important parts of which had already been taken care of) and renamed the “Federal Ministry for Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture”. The reason for her appointment was the resignation of her predecessor Karl-Heinz Funke (SPD) and Health Minister Andrea Fischer (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) because of a BSE scandal. As minister, Künast pushed through the “ Agricultural Turnaround ”, a reform package aimed at strengthening consumer protection, promoting organic farming and expanding animal welfare . Even before the Merkel government came into office, Künast announced her resignation as federal minister on 27 September 2005 (nine days after the 2005 federal elections ), after being elected parliamentary group leader on the same day. Her dismissal took place on October 4, 2005, for the remaining weeks her party colleague Jürgen Trittin continued her official duties.

Renate Künast has been a member of the German Bundestag since the 2002 federal election . Since then, Künast has always entered the Bundestag via the Berlin state list, until 2013 as Berlin's top candidate. In the Bundestag, Künast is one of 12 members of the electoral committee , which appointed half of the judges of the Federal Constitutional Court until 2015 and has since recommended them to the plenum for election.

In the 19th German Bundestag, Künast is a full member of the Committee on Food and Agriculture . She is also a deputy member of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Consumer Protection .

Group leader in the Bundestag and Berlin top candidate

Renate Künast, Berlin 2009

After the 2005 general election , Künast was elected on September 27, 2005, together with Fritz Kuhn , to chair the Green parliamentary group .

In October 2010, the Berlin Greens overtook the SPD in some polls and were predicted to be the strongest party in the 2011 Berlin House of Representatives elections . On November 5, 2010, Künast announced at an informal general meeting of the Berlin Greens that she wanted to run for the office of governing mayor. On November 7, the state party conference officially presented her as a candidate for the government office. At the same time, Künast made it clear that she would only be available as Governing Mayor, but not for lower-ranking functions in Berlin state politics. In the election on September 18, 2011, the Greens received 17.6 percent of the votes cast. With this result, they remained in third place behind SPD (28.3%) and CDU (23.3%); Klaus Wowereit remained head of government.

Unsuccessful candidature as top candidate for the 2013 federal election and withdrawal from the front row

In August 2012, after two periods as parliamentary group leader, she announced her renewed candidacy for the top Green duo for the 2013 federal election . However, Künast was defeated by her colleague Jürgen Trittin and surprisingly by Bundestag Vice-President Katrin Göring-Eckardt in the first ballot of the Greens , who led the Greens to the Bundestag elections. On February 16, 2013, she was elected by the State Members' Assembly (LMV) as the top candidate of the Berlin Greens for the 2013 federal elections. In 2013, she received 20.3% of the first votes in her Berlin Tempelhof-Schöneberg constituency . After a disappointing election result for the Greens, she and other top figures in the Greens no longer ran as parliamentary group leaders. For the 2017 federal elections in Berlin, she only allowed herself to be placed third on the list in order to achieve a “renewal at the top”, which according to the polls no longer meant a secure mandate for Künast, but was just enough for her re-entry after a long election night.



Künast largely separates her private life from her role in public. She has been married to the lawyer Rüdiger Portius since February 22, 2011. The couple lives in Berlin.

political positions

Künast calls for the "naturalization" of Islam in Germany. She supports the introduction of Islam lessons in German schools.

Regarding the pedophilia debate in 2013, she regretted having distanced herself from pedophile tendencies too late, even though she had never advocated them.

In 2020, Künast demanded in the Bundestag, to applause from the Greens, the Left and individual members of the SPD : "We need a democracy promotion law. To be honest, I'm tired of the fact that we've been fighting for decades so that NGOs and antifa groups that are involved don't always have to fight for their money and can only sign fixed-term employment contracts for one year." similar demands over time . Bettina Röhl commented on Künast's statements in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung that one may ask the question "whether Antifa is something like a civil servant RAF , a terrorist group with money from the state under the guise of "fighting the right wing"".

public perception

Jan Fleischhauer accused Künast of having a penchant for moralizing prejudices against political opponents: she publicly demanded the resignation of Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle , Wolfgang Schäuble , Cornelia Pieper , Minister of Agriculture Ilse Aigner , Minister of Defense Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg , Federal President Christian Wulff , railway boss Hartmut Mehdorn , Bishop Walter Mixa , SPD politician Thilo Sarrazin and the Minister of Education Annette Schavan . In November 2012, she also called for a partial dissolution of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in the affair surrounding the National Socialist Underground .

The actress and comedian Martina Hill parodied Künast's appearance e.g. in the TV show Switch reloaded from the sixth season.

In the program Menschen bei Maischberger , Künast recommended that policewoman Tania Kambouri take off her shoes during police operations in mosques after she had described her experiences with allegedly increasing violent tendencies among Muslim immigrants. Kambouri and North Rhine-Westphalia's then interior minister, Ralf Jäger , rejected the proposal because it would prioritize compliance with a Muslim tradition over the security of officers.

In connection with the shots fired by the Bavarian police at the perpetrator of the attack on a regional train near Würzburg , Künast caused a stir by publishing on the short message service Twitter : "Tragic and we hope for the injured. Why couldn't the attacker be shot incapacitated???? Questions! #Würzburg“. Afterwards, the chairman of the German Police Union , Rainer Wendt , accused Künast of “parliamentary smartass” and recommended: “Perhaps one should generally recommend politicians not to tweet for 24 hours at such events”. Bavaria's Interior Minister Herrmann defended the actions of the police because the perpetrator also attacked people while he was fleeing. Various party colleagues distanced themselves from Künast's statement and expressed their trust in the German police.

In the political debate about how to deal with and fight false reports, so-called fake news , especially on social networks such as Facebook , Künast was the first to file a criminal complaint for a false report: On the Facebook page "Resistance of German Patriots", Künast was named after the Arrest of the suspect in the Maria L. criminal case misquoted on suspicion of murder in Freiburg. The quote was wrongly given as taken from the Süddeutsche Zeitung . The post was only deleted three days after Künast had complained to Facebook about the false report, and Facebook apologized in a letter to the member of the Bundestag. In December 2016, Künast filed criminal charges against the operators of the Facebook page and against unknown persons.

In 2019, Künast, supported by the non-governmental organization HateAid , sued Facebook for serious attacks by various Facebook users against them. The lawsuit was aimed at obtaining information about the identity of the users concerned. The district court of Berlin dismissed the lawsuit on September 9, 2019. As the starting point of the attacks, the court assessed an interjection by Künast from 1986 in the Berlin House of Representatives in connection with the pedophilia debate in the Greens at the time, "Come on, if there is no violence involved!", extended by a network activist by a Künast in put his mouth to it, "Sex with children is quite ok. It's good now". The 22 statements criticized by Künast are not criminal insults, not mere degrading of the person, but permissible expressions of opinion on the matter. Even if, as the court conceded, some of them were “very polemical and exaggerated and also sexist ”. This decision ( 27 AR 17/19 ) met with overwhelming public criticism. Künast appealed against the decision of the regional court. The district court then changed its decision to the effect that in six of the 22 cases criminal insults were to be assumed and that Künast's request for information was justified. For the remaining sixteen cases, Künast maintained her appeal.

The Berlin Court of Appeal ruled in a legally binding decision ( 10 W 13/20 ), maintaining the amended decision of the Regional Court, that a further six comments had such a massively defamatory content that, regardless of the reason for the gaffes, the exception was a no longer legitimized abusive criticism or one of these equivalent formal insult will be achieved. The remaining ten statements should also be classified as slanderous designations and disparagements. It cannot be overlooked that there has been a decline in language and, in particular, exploiting anonymity on the Internet, has led to brutalization and even a radicalization of social discourse. However, taking into account the provisions of the Constitutional Court, it should be noted that the threshold for the criminal offense of insult under Section 185 of the Criminal Code was not exceeded. Due to the current legal situation, Künast has no right to information regarding those ten statements. In response to Künast's constitutional complaint , the Federal Constitutional Court reversed the decisions of the Berlin Regional Court and the Court of Appeal in a decision published at the beginning of February 2022, insofar as they had been made to the detriment of Künast, and referred the matter back to the Court of Appeal for a new decision.




  • Martin Sebaldt : Künast, Renate Elly. In: Udo Kempf, Hans-Georg Merz (ed.): Chancellor and Minister 1998-2005. Biographical lexicon of the German federal governments. Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2008, ISBN 978-3-531-14605-8 , pp. 223-234.
  • Werner Breunig , Andreas Herbst (eds.): Biographical handbook of Berlin MPs 1963-1995 and city councilors 1990/1991 (= series of publications of the Berlin State Archive. Volume 19). Landesarchiv Berlin, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-9803303-5-0 , p. 228.

web links

Commons : Renate Künast  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
 Wikinews: Renate Künast  – in the news


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