Former Federal Minister of Economy and North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister Wolfgang Clement has died. The 80-year-old died early Sunday morning at home in Bonn with the family in his bed, the family’s German news agency heard. The “Neue Westfälische” had reported earlier.
The New Social Market Economy initiative also confirmed Clement’s death. The former SPD politician, who recently backed the FDP, chaired the network’s supervisory board.
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier paid tribute to the life’s work of Wolfgang Clement. “In all his offices, and especially as Federal Minister of Economy and Labor and as Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, your husband has made lasting merits in all party lines,” Steinmeier wrote to his widow Karin Clement on Sunday.
With independent and uncomfortable views, the former SPD politician campaigned to prepare Germany for the future. “Until recently, your husband was a champion of the social market economy,” said Steinmeier’s letter of condolence.
Federal Economy Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) praised the former Economy Minister as a “great patriot”. Clement wasn’t about ideology, but about jobs and people, Altmaier said on Twitter. As Minister of Economy and Labor, he contributed to the success of the necessary reforms.
FDP leader Christian Lindner tweeted on Sunday: “The FDP mourns Wolfgang Clement. As a social liberal, he devoted his entire life to social progress, work and growth. “
Clement was Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia from 1998 to 2002 and Federal Minister of Labor and Economy from 2002 to 2005, the so-called “Super Minister”. In 2008 he resigned from the party. In the summer it became known that Clement had lung cancer. He leaves behind a wife and five daughters.
At the end of August, Clement had come to a dinner by Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU) for NRW’s 74th anniversary. His illness had already marked him visibly.
When Clement turned 80 on July 7, former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) told the German news agency, “Wolfgang Clement has made a lot of political difference, both in North Rhine-Westphalia and at the federal level.” Schröder continued: “I have given him great appreciation for leaving the office of Prime Minister in 2002 and taking up the position of Federal Minister of Economy and Labor in my cabinet.”
Together with the then head of the Federal Chancellery, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, he was one of the key players who designed the 2010 reform agenda, Schröder said. Clement made his last political appearance in 2017 when Germany applied to the EU Medicines Agency. (dpa, teaspoon)