Wolfgang Schäuble turns 80: a loyal supporter of the chancellor

Wolfgang Schäuble turns 80: a loyal supporter of the chancellor

Wolfgang Schäuble has achieved more in politics than many Federal Chancellors. That’s also because he’s been around for so long. The Christian Democrat has been a member of parliament for almost half a century. Nobody has held more offices in the Bundestag and in the federal governments in the last five decades than the son from a Baden family. He has represented the Offenburg constituency since 1972, always directly elected.

As a loyal follower of Helmut Kohl, Schäuble became the Bonn negotiator for the accession of the GDR to the western Federal Republic. The unification agreement that legally sealed this in August 1990 bears his signature. Federal Minister of the Interior Schäuble, who previously served as Parliamentary Secretary of the union faction and then head of the Chancellery was one of Kohl’s closest associates, seized the surprising opportunity so quickly that the faltering leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, could only agree.

The haste was at the expense of perfection. A year later, the Soviet Union collapsed after an attempted coup. Schäuble’s personal fate also took a sudden turn. A lunatic assassin shot him and a bodyguard a few days after the unity celebration in October 1990 during an election campaign event in Oppenau. Schäuble survived, but has been confined to a wheelchair ever since. He certainly struggled with that, he never complained. He fought staunchly back into life and into politics, accompanied by his wife Ingeborg and their children.

The speech that made Berlin the capital

After the assassination, Schäuble took over the leadership of the Union parliamentary group in the Bundestag and, with his very special mixture of toughness and Baden charm, secured the chancellor’s allegiance in the years that followed. His greatest hour in parliament came when he, not the hesitant Kohl, managed to win a majority for the capital Berlin with a big speech.

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