Wolfgang Clement is a renowned economist with profound knowledge of the political establishment, where he remained for nearly four decades. As former Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia he was super-minister for Economy and Labour under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, before becoming a business manager in the private sector.
After graduation Wolfgang began his journalism career at the Westfälische Rundschau and studied law at the University of Münster. He then went on to work as a law clerk and assistant at the Institute of Procedural Law at the University of Marburg. In 1968 Wolfgang returned to Westfälische Rundschau, first as political editor, then as head of politics and finally as vice editor in chief. In 1986, he took the role as editor in chief at the Hamburger Morgenpost and remained there until 1989.
From 1970 to 2008, Wolfgang was a member of the SPD. Up until 1989 he held various positions at the state and federal level. In 1989 he became the head of the Chancellery Office in Dusseldorf. In 1995 he beccame Minister of Economic Affairs, Technology and Transportation. Finally he succeeded Johannes Rau as Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia in 1998.
In the 2000 election, Wolfgang was confirmed in his position, but changed to Berlin in 2002 to become Minister of Economics and Labour under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, a position created especially for him. In his new office, he faced the challenge of implementing the proposals of the Hartz Commission and to initiate major reforms of the labor market. Although this lost him a significant number of votes within the SPD for the re-election as deputy party leader, he received praise from many economists for his swift action.
He has received several awards for his political activities, including the European trade prize in 2001.
As a pragmatic realist, Wolfgang is one of the most intriguing figures in the Cabinet, and is referred to several times as the only conceivable successor to Gerhard Schröder. His direct and occasionally brash nature makes him a very popular party leader to the media. After 38 years of membership, Wolfgang left the SPD in 2008.