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Franz-Josef Strauß

Franz-Josef Strauß
Source: dpa

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Biography of Franz Josef Strauß (FJS)

Franz Josef Strauß (born 6 September 1915 Munich, died 3 October 1988). His trademark: polarising political debate. A solid Bavarian conservative or an unscrupulous reactionary?

On one thing both opponents and supporters agree: he's a man you can't ignore! Son of a butcher, Strauß graduates from school with the best Abitur exam results of the year in Bavaria. In his post-war political career he rapidly rises to the top - first becoming Bavarian interior minister, then moving on to national politics.

Even bulletAdenauer can't thwart his ambitions: federal minister with special responsibilities, then minister for nuclear power, defence minister and, finally, finance minister.

Showing instinctive political cunning, Strauß survives a series of scandals without any lasting damage to his career. He builds up the Bavaria-based Christian Socialist Union (CSU) into an overwhelming regional force and, as the CDU's sister party, a strong right-wing lever on federal politics.

However, he ultimately bulletfails in his bid for the chancellorship, beaten at the polls in 1980 when the CDU/CSU perform badly against Helmut Schmidt's SPD. After Helmut Kohl has led the Christian Democrats back into power, Strauß, the Bavarian state premier, or Ministerpräsident, can exert pressure from Munich on an initially shaky chancellor in Bonn - but his significance on the national stage steadily wanes.

Dirk Bitzer

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