The former Prime Minister of Schleswig Holstein, Heide Simonis, is dead. According to the State Chancellery in Kiel, she died a few days after her 80th birthday. The SPD politician led the state government of the northernmost state from 1993 to 2005 – as the first woman nationwide to hold this office.
“I mourn the loss of a great politician and a passionate woman from Schleswig-Holstein,” said the incumbent Prime Minister of Kiel, Daniel Günther (CDU), about the death. As a politician, she “never minced her words, was upright, open and always straightforward”. SPD leader Saskia Esken praised Simonis as “an important personality who made history”.
Heide Simonis was also the first ex-Prime Minister to dance on television: in 2006 on the RTL show “Let’s Dance”Image: Felix Heyder / dpaweb / dpa / picture alliance
Simonis was born in Bonn on July 4, 1943. In 1972 she moved to Schleswig-Holstein with her husband Udo Simonis. From 1976 to 1988 she was a member of the Bundestag before moving into state politics as finance minister. Her political career ended unexpectedly in 2005, when she wanted to form a minority government after suffering heavy losses in the state elections. However, an unknown dissenter from her own ranks denied her the vote she needed for a majority in four ballots, whereupon her SPD entered a coalition as a junior partner with the election winner, the CDU.
Later she was, among other things, chairwoman of the children’s charity Unicef Germany. Several years ago, Simonis made her Parkinson’s disease public and gradually withdrew from the public eye.
ahl/ust (dpa, afp)