He is a self-confessed Catholic and metal fan, he rails against the CSU and is open to discussion with the Left Party. Many appreciate Daniel Gunther for his pragmatic attitude. Now he becomes president of the Bundesrat.
Two years ago, hardly anyone knew his name, but now he is one of the most popular prime ministers in the republic. The state representatives unanimously elected Schleswig-Holstein's Daniel Gunther (CDU) as President of the Bundesrat on Friday. For twelve months, he will hold one of the highest offices in the state and will represent Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in representative appointments and travels and chair the meetings of the Bundesrat.
The task falls to Gunther on a rotational basis, but it fits perfectly into the 45-year-old's stellar career. At the end of June 2017, he took over as minister president in Germany's northernmost state and has since cut a fine figure in the political arena, becoming Angela Merkel's confidant.
Gunther, who has just become a father for the second time, has followed the classic CDU career path: In his hometown of Eckernforde, he was district chairman of the Junge Union, later local chairman. In 2009, he moved into the Schleswig-Holstein state parliament, where he took over the chairmanship of the parliamentary group in 2014. He has been CDU state chairman since 2016 and has now been at the helm of Germany's only "Jamaica coalition" of CDU, Greens and FDP for more than a year.
Gunther pleads for "hard line" in security policy
One of his biggest government successes so far has been the return to traditional high school graduation after nine years. He makes the case for protecting the family and advocates a "hard line" on security policy. The Catholic draws strength for his work from his faith, which he professes again and again; recently he hung up a cross in his office in Kiel.
But anyone who would now like to label Gunther as a well-behaved traditionalist is not quite right. With his pragmatic convictions, the young father of the country, who outed himself as a metal fan at the Wacken Open Air in the summer, always causes surprises. Most recently with his push for a government to be formed with the Left Party in the eastern German states: "If election results do not allow a coalition to be formed against the Left Party, a government capable of acting must still be formed," he demanded in an interview, causing outrage among many of his party colleagues. In refugee policy, Gunther favors family reunification rather than isolation; last year, he spoke out in favor of introducing same-sex marriage even before the German chancellor's pivot.
Only with this open attitude can cooperation with the Greens and FDP succeed in Kiel. The CDU/CSU politician would have loved to see a "Jamaica alliance" in Berlin. The grand coalition that came instead gets on the Schleswig-Holstein politician's nerves with its squabbles, which he also expresses publicly. Above all, he makes no secret of his dislike for the political style of the Bavarian sister party CSU.
"Daniel Gunther can be chancellor"
Gunther's term of office as president of the Bundesrat includes next year's European elections. He himself sees this as "an opportunity to send a signal of confidence to those who want to divide and split society in Germany, but also in Europe.". The celebration of German Unity Day 2019 in Kiel is therefore to be held under the motto "Courage unites". It usually takes place in the country that holds the presidency of the Federal Council. The Christian Democrat already took over the baton for the chairmanship of the state chamber from governing mayor Michael Muller (SPD) at this year's unity celebrations in Berlin.
The official start of the term of office is on 1. November; he plans to give his inaugural speech on 23 November. Hold November.
The prime minister from the north has already earned the trust of many of his political colleagues; even across party lines, he is now seen as the successor to Merkel: "Daniel Gunther can be chancellor," said FDP deputy leader Wolfgang Kubicki. The presidency of the Bundesrat is a good opportunity for the man from Schleswig-Holstein to prove that once again.