Germany: From Foreign Minister to President – Who is Frank-Walter Steinmeier? | DW Documentary

A member of the Social Democrats, Frank-Walter Steinmeier has never sought the big stage, he has rarely revealed much about his private life and he has never been one to join public protests or to lose his cool after a major political defeat. Steinmeier was German Foreign Minister from 2005 to 2009, he then ran unsuccessfully for the job of chancellor, after that he was leader of the opposition, before returning to head up the foreign ministry in 2013. He’s known as a bridge builder, the proficient bureaucrat, a crisis manager, a safe pair of hands. A man of balance, who weighs his words and is treated with respect even by his political opponents. He comes across as a man free from vanity, interested only in fighting for the cause.

Published on 13 Feb 2017

Frank-Walter Steinmeier has been elected as the next German president – a triumph for the ex-foreign minister, who missed out on the position of German Chancellor to Angela Merkel.


Elected by the federal assembly, Germany’s former foreign minister will have be less involved in political decision making, and take on a more representative and integrative role. We follow Steinmeier’s journey – from the small town in North-Rhine Westphalia where he grew up, to his involvement in state-level politics in Hanover, and finally to Berlin.


A member of the Social Democrats, Frank-Walter Steinmeier has never sought the big stage, he has rarely revealed much about his private life and he has never been one to join public protests or to lose his cool after a major political defeat. Steinmeier was German Foreign Minister from 2005 to 2009, he then ran unsuccessfully for the job of chancellor, after that he was leader of the opposition, before returning to head up the foreign ministry in 2013. He’s known as a bridge builder, the proficient bureaucrat, a crisis manager, a safe pair of hands. A man of balance, who weighs his words and is treated with respect even by his political opponents. He comes across as a man free from vanity, interested only in fighting for the cause.
As foreign minister, he proved to be an effective mediator between warring parties; in turbulent times, his diplomatic manner gave him an air of dependability. That made him Germany’s most popular politician. As the newly elected president, he will be looking to rally the German people. But can he do that? Can he reassure an anxious society? Can he be passionate and convincing, reaching out to the people to shore up a democracy under threat?

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