Peer Steinbrück (born 10 January 1947) is a German politician who was the chancellor-candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in the 2013 federal election. Steinbrück served as the 8th Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia from 2002 to 2005, a member of the Bundestag from 2009 to 2016, and as Federal Minister of Finance in the first Cabinet of Chancellor Angela Merkel from 2005 to 2009.A graduate of the University of Kiel, Steinbrück began his political career in the office of Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and became chief of staff to Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia, Johannes Rau, in 1986. Steinbrück served as a state minister in both Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia and succeeded Wolfgang Clement as Minister-President of North-Rhine Westphalia in 2002. Governing in an SPD-Green coalition, Steinbrück’s tenure was noted for its attempt to reduce tax breaks and coal subsidies. In the 2005 state election, Steinbrück’s SPD lost to the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) opposition led by Jürgen Rüttgers, thus marking the end of Steinbrück’s tenure as Minister-President.
After the 2005 federal election, which resulted in a Grand Coalition government under the leadership of new Chancellor Angela Merkel of the CDU, Steinbrück was appointed Minister of Finance. In this position, Steinbrück was charged with reducing Germany’s budget deficit, curbing public debt, and introducing changes in the taxation system. In the 2009 federal election, SPD chancellor-candidate Frank-Walter Steinmeier included Steinbrück as a member of his shadow cabinet.
In 2012, the National Assembly of the SPD elected Steinbrück as the chancellor-candidate of the SPD for the 2013 federal election. After he was nominated, controversy surrounding Steinbrück history of giving paid speeches to private banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank, as well as the potential conflict of interest surrounding his seat on the board of steel conglomerate Thyssenkrupp, prompted criticism from both centre-right members of Angela Merkel’s coalition as well as members of SPD’s left-wing. Steinbrück’s gaffe-prone campaign failed to gain traction, and the SPD was comfortably defeated by Merkel’s CDU in the federal election which took place on 22 September 2013.