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Ulla Schmidt

Ulla Schmidt
Federal Minister of Health
In office
12 January 2001 – 27 October 2009
Preceded by Andrea Fischer
Succeeded by Philipp Rösler
Federal Minister of Health and Social Security
In office
October 22, 2002 – November 22, 2005
Preceded by Walter Riester (Social Affairs)
Succeeded by Franz Müntefering
(Social Affairs)
Personal details
Born (1949-06-13) June 13, 1949
Aachen, Germany
Nationality German
Political party Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD)
Alma mater Teaching College of Aachen
Profession Teacher for Primary and General Schools

Ursula "Ulla" Schmidt (born June 13, 1949) is a German politician who currently serves as Vice-President of the German Bundestag. She is a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD).


  • Early life and education 1
  • Political career 2
    • Early beginnings 2.1
    • Member of the Federal Government 2.2
    • Member of the German Bundestag 2.3
  • Other activities 3
  • Controversies 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life and education

Schmidt studied at RWTH Aachen University and FernUniversität Hagen before working as a teacher specialising in special needs education and the rehabilitation of children with learning difficulties and behavioural issues.[1]

Political career

Early beginnings

In 1976 Schmidt was a candidate of the Maoist "Kommunistischer Bund Westdeutschland" (KBW) (Communist League of West Germany) for the Federal Assembly of Germany (Bundestag) in Aachen. The KBW dissolved completely in 1985.

In 1983, Schmidt changed to the Social Democratic Party (SPD). There she is a member of the local (Aachen) leadership and of the "Seeheimer Kreis". She was elected to the German Bundestag in the first elections in reunified Germany on 2 December 1990, representing the Aachen I constituency.[2]

Member of the Federal Government

As deputy leader of the Social Democratic parliamentary group between 1998 and 2001,[3] Schmidt first gained respect in Parliament for her strong defense of pension reforms proposed by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder government in 2000.[4]

After the resignation of incumbent Andrea Fischer, who took the blame for the government's chaotic response to the discovery of 10 cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, Schmidt became Federal Minister for Health under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in 2001.[5] A year later, the responsibility for social security was added to her portfolio and she was appointed Federal Minister for Health and Social Security.

During her tenure as Germany’s long-serving minister of health, Schmidt oversaw major system reforms, balancing social solidarity with fiscal responsibility.[6] In September 2003, Schmidt worked to tighten the regulations allowing welfare benefits to German expatriates. Under the new rules, the only people to receive benefits are Germans who are receiving long-term medical treatment outside the country or who are in foreign jails.[7]

In November 2005, Schmidt again became Federal Minister for Health in the grand coalition of Angela Merkel. Social security was reunited with the portfolio of labour, which in 2002 had been added to that of the Federal Minister for Economics. By 2006, Schmidt led negotiations for an agreement on changes to Germany’s healthcare financing.[8]

In July 2009, the Social Democrats’ candidate to challenge incumbent Chancellor Angela Merkel, Frank Walter Steinmeier, dropped Schmidt from his campaign team for the federal elections, after she embarrassed the party by taking her official Mercedes and chauffeur on a vacation to Spain.[9] The SPD subsequently lost the elections.

Member of the German Bundestag

From February 2010, Schmidt was a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and deputy chairwoman of the German delegation to that assembly. She also served as a member of the Subcommittee on Cultural and Education Policy Abroad of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and as a member of the Committee on Cultural and Media Affairs.[10]

In 2010, Schmidt became chairwoman of Lebenshilfe, the association for people with mental disability, their families, experts and friends.[11]

In addition, Schmidt is a member of the parliament’s Council of Elders, which – among other duties – determines daily legislative agenda items and assigning committee chairpersons based on party representation.

Other activities


Amid discussions on whether Iraq possesses the smallpox virus and that the Saddam Hussein regime has mobile factories capable of producing chemical and biological weapons, Schmidt recommended in 2003 that Germany stockpile smallpox vaccine to guard against a possible terrorist attack. In response, members of the conservative opposition accused Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's government of withholding a true picture of the threat from Iraq.[12]

In 2009, Schmidt criticized statements made by Pope Benedict XVI, who claimed that condom usage promoted AIDS.[13]


  1. ^ Ulla Schmidt, Vice-President of the Bundestag Deutscher Bundestag.
  2. ^ Ulla Schmidt, Vice-President of the Bundestag Deutscher Bundestag.
  3. ^ Ulla Schmidt, Vice-President of the Bundestag Deutscher Bundestag.
  4. ^ Roger Cohen (January 11, 2001), Two Named to New German Agency in Shuffle Over Beef Disease New York Times.
  5. ^ Roger Cohen (January 11, 2001), Two Named to New German Agency in Shuffle Over Beef Disease New York Times.
  6. ^ Tsung-Mei Cheng and Uwe E. Reinhardt, Shepherding Major Health System Reforms: A Conversation With German Health Minister Ulla Schmidt Health Affairs, May 2008.
  7. ^ Mark Landler (October 17, 2003), A German Banker on Welfare Among Miami's Palms New York Times.
  8. ^ Hugh Williamson (June 9, 2006), Germany on course for health financing reform New York Times.
  9. ^ Germany: Setback For Official In Stolen-Car Case Financial Times, July 30, 2009.
  10. ^ Ulla Schmidt, Vice-President of the Bundestag Deutscher Bundestag.
  11. ^ Ulla Schmidt, Vice-President of the Bundestag Deutscher Bundestag.
  12. ^ Richard Bernstein (February 4, 2003), Schröder's Team Not Telling Full Story on Iraq, Foes Say New York Times.
  13. ^ Empörte Reaktionen auf Papst-Äußerung

External links

  • Official Site of Ulla Schmidt
  • Kommunistischer Bund Westdeutschland (German WorldHeritage)
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