Schröder, Gerhard

Schröder, Gerhard

(gĕr`härt), 1944–, chancellor of Germany (1998–2005), b. Mosenburg, Germany. A telegenic lawyer and Social Democrat, he entered politics as a Marxist student in the 1960s and was elected to the Bundestag in 1980. From 1990 to 1998 he was the premier of Lower Saxony state and moved closer to the center of the political spectrum. In 1998 he led the Social Democrats to a national electoral victory over the Christian Democrats and Helmut KohlKohl, Helmut
(Helmut Josef Michael Kohl) , 1930–2017, German statesman, chancellor of West Germany (1982–1990) and reunified Germany (1990–98). A member of Christian Democratic Union (CDU), he was elected to the Rhineland-Palatinate parliament in 1959, became
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, Germany's chancellor since 1982. Schröder came to power as a representative of a pragmatic "new middle" similar to those proclaimed by U.S. president Bill ClintonClinton, Bill
(William Jefferson Clinton), 1946–, 42d President of the United States (1993–2001), b. Hope, Ark. His father died before he was born, and he was originally named William Jefferson Blythe 4th, but after his mother remarried, he assumed the surname of his
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 and British prime minister Tony BlairBlair, Tony
(Anthony Charles Lynton Blair), 1953–, British politician, b. Edinburgh. An Oxford-educated lawyer, he was first elected to Parliament in 1983 as the Labour party candidate from a district in N England.
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.

The first months of Schröder's chancellorship were marked by policy disputes with his more strongly socialist finance minister (and Social Democratic party chairman) Oskar LafontaineLafontaine, Oskar,
1943–, German politician. He rose through the Social Democrat Party (SPD) and electoral ranks in the Saar, becoming SPD regional chairman in 1977 and premier of the Saar in 1985.
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, who resigned in Mar., 1999. Schröder succeeded Lafontaine as party chairman. After the Social Democrats subsequently suffered a series of electoral defeats on the state level, however, Schröder moved to shore up his standing with the left, but he also subsequently won passage (2000) of reductions in individual and corporate taxes and positioned the Social Democrats as modernizing force. Internationally, he pursued a less European Union– and NATO-centered foreign policy than his predecessor, establishing good relations with Russia. He also supported the United States in its attacks on terrorists in Afghanistan, which strained relations the Green party, his coalition partners.

Schröder's coalition narrowly retained power in the 2002 elections, which increased his dependence on support from the Greens. In the election campaign Schröder ignited a transatlantic controversy by categorically rejecting any German participation in military action against Iraq; he became a strong opponent of any use of force in the subsequent months leading up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq (Mar., 2003). The Social Democrats' electoral setbacks initially led him to move forward more modestly with reforms in his second term, despite Germany's weak economy, but late in 2003 he secured passage of tax cuts and labor laws intended to revive the economy. Unhappiness with his reform program led Schröder to resign as party chairman in 2004. Losses in state elections led him to call for early national elections in 2005, and the Social Democrats narrowly lost to the Christian Democrats, led by Angela MerkelMerkel, Angela
, 1954–, German politician, b. Hamburg as Angela Dorothea Kasner. The daughter of a Lutheran pastor, she grew up in what was then East Germany. She trained as a physicist (Ph.D., Univ.
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, who succeeded Schröder as chancellor. Schröder subsequently became (2006) chairman of the shareholders committee with Nord Stream, the Russian-led North European gas pipeline consortium, and later (2017) chairman of Rosneft, the Russian state-owned oil company, and his close friendship with PutinPutin, Vladimir Vladimirovich
, 1952–, Russian government official and political leader, b. Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). After graduating from the Leningrad State Univ.
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 has been criticized.

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