The former Vice President of the EU Commission, Federal Minister of Economics and former FDP Federal Chairman Martin Bangemann died in France on Tuesday, as has only just become known.

Rudiger Soldt

Political correspondent in Baden-Württemberg.

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Bangemann, who was born in Wanzleben in Saxony-Anhalt, studied law after graduating from high school and initially worked as a lawyer in Metzingen in Württemberg, until he quickly gained political influence there after joining the FDP: Bangemann was one of the co-authors of the “Freiburg Theses” in 1971. , the then new FDP basic program.

With the programme, the party created the basis for the content of the social-liberal coalition under Willy Brandt, which had been in power since 1969.

At that time, the FDP was also the first party to include the topic of environmental protection in its program.

One of the intellectual fathers of the social-liberal program was Karl-Hermann Flach, a former editor of the “Frankfurter Rundschau”.

The aim of the program should be a "democratic and social liberalism"

At the beginning of the 1970s, Bangemann became the second general secretary of his party, a short time later state chairman in Baden-Württemberg and from 1985 to 1988 also federal chairman of the FDP.

The lawyer wanted to turn the FDP into a modern employee party, so in the 1980s he caused a stir with his proposal to introduce a “guaranteed basic pension”.

From 1984 to 1988 he was Federal Economics Minister in the second cabinet of Helmut Kohl (CDU).

A short time later, the social-liberal Bangemann fell out with the then business-liberal FDP chairman Graf Lambsdorff over the question of how much the state should intervene in the market with subsidies.

Lindner: "Above all, a great European"

From 1989 until the complete resignation of the European Commission led by Jacques Santer in 1999, Bangemann was then EU Commissioner, responsible among other things for the internal market, industrial policy and the liberalization of the telecommunications markets.

After retiring from politics, he accepted a high-paying job at the Spanish telephone company Telefonica, which had been controversial for years, which led to a public debate about conflicts of interest between politicians who had switched to business.

According to many critics, including those in his party, Bangemann did not pay enough attention to the waiting period between old and new jobs.

The Baden-Württemberg FDP state chairman Michael Theuer said on the occasion of Bangemann's death: "As a co-author of the Freiburg theses, Martin Bangemann pushed ahead with the substantive modernization of the FDP together with Werner Maihofer and Walter Scheel." At the time, the FDP was the only party chaired by him increase in votes in all federal and state elections.

Despite the turbulence caused by the coalition change to the CDU in 1982, she was still successful in state elections.

The FDP federal chairman and federal finance minister Christian Lindner wrote on Twitter: "He was a passionate liberal, a fighter for the social market economy and above all a great European."

Bangemann died of a heart attack on Tuesday at the age of 87 at his private home in the French department of Deux-Sèvres.

He leaves behind a wife, children and grandchildren.