Former federal economics minister and north rhine-westphalia minister president wolfgang clement is dead. The 80-year-old died peacefully in his bed at home in bonn early on sunday morning, according to family sources. The "neue westfalische" had previously reported that.
German chancellor angela merkel (CDU) and german president frank-walter steinmeier paid tribute to clement’s life’s work. "Wolfgang clement has done a great deal to reconcile the necessary economic structural change with the needs of working people," merkel said via government spokesman steffen seibert on twitter. Clement had "rendered germany great and lasting service", he had played a decisive role in one of the most important and most difficult tasks: "the social reforms of agenda 2010, which showed us the way out of the high unemployment rate."Her sympathy goes to his wife, daughters and grandchildren.
Steinmeier wrote to the widow karin clement on sunday: "in all his offices, and in particular as federal minister for economics and labor and as minister president of north rhine-westphalia, your husband has rendered lasting service across all party lines." The former SPD politician had worked to make germany fit for the future with independent and also uncomfortable points of view. "Until the end, your husband was a fighter for the social market economy," says steinmeier’s letter of condolence.
CDU leader annegret kramp-karrenbauer also paid tribute to clement. The pugnacious social democrat had decisively shaped germany. Thanks to him. Party colleague peter altmaier spoke of a "gross patriot. Clement was not concerned with ideology, but with jobs and people, the federal economics minister declared on twitter.
Clement was a federal minister in gerhard schroder’s cabinet from 2002 to 2005; before that, he was minister president in north rhine-westphalia. Former interior minister otto schily (SPD), who was part of the federal government together with clement, told the deutsche presse-agentur: "with him, germany loses one of the most impressive and intelligent politicians, who always knew how to combine economic expertise and social commitment."
The 2010 reform agenda, which clement played a major role in implementing, is today regarded as his outstanding political achievement. At times, clement was considered to be schroder’s successor, but at the same time he lost the support of his party because he deprived them of part of their core constituency with the cuts in the social sector. It was the beginning of an estrangement that eventually led to the comrade leaving the party in 2008. In the years that followed, he campaigned for the FDP on several occasions.
The SPD in north rhine-westphalia praised clement as an influential and at the same time controversial social democrat. "Wolfgang clements’ relationship with his party was not an easy one," state party leader sebastian hartmann and secretary general nadja luders said together on sunday. "His break with the SPD in 2008 clearly demonstrated this."North rhine-westphalia’s minister president armin laschet (CDU) called him a "towering figure of north rhine-westphalia and germany.