Ludolf Ostermann

Ludolf Franz Ritter von Ostermann
Ludwig Ostermann.png
Official portrait of Ludolf Ostermann
36th Chancellor of Werania
In office
12 April 1979 – 16 May 1991
MonarchOtto XII
Preceded byAlbrecht Spaemann
Succeeded byWolfgang Löscher
Federal Chairman of the Social Democratic Radical Party of Werania
In office
18 August 1978 – 16 May 1991
Preceded byPost created
Succeeded byWolfgang Löscher
Leader of the Social Democratic Party of Werania
In office
5 December 1975 – 18 August 1978
Preceded byGustav Pittermann
Succeeded byPost abolished
Personal details
Born (1927-11-14) November 14, 1927 (age 92)
Vöckdorf, Cislania, Werania
DiedWestbrücken, Werania
Political partySPO, SRPO
Spouse(s)Erika Spielmann (1952-1995)
Veronika Nesselrode (1997-2015)
Military career
Allegiance Werania
Service/branchAir force
Years of service1945–1950
Battles/warsNasani War of Unification

Ludolf Franz Ostermann is a retired Weranian politician who served as Chancellor of Werania form 1979 to 1991. He was also the leader of the Social Democratic Party of Werania (SPO) from 1975 to 1978 and its successor party the Social Democratic Radical Party of Werania (SRPO) from 1978 to 1991. Ostermann also served as in various ministerial roles including Health, Defence and Economy and sat in the Volkstag from 1955 to his retirement from active politics in 2000.

Having fought in colonial wars as a member of Reichwehr, Ostermann in 1955 became a member of the Volkstag. In the government of Rudolf Wiefelspütz he became Minister of Health and in the first government of Gustav Pittermann Minister of Economy. Proving himself to be a popular and innovative minister Ostermann became a leading figure of the party's modernising wing. After the SPO lost power in 1970 Ostermann soon became Pittermann's chief party rival; after Pittermann lost the 1975 election Ostermann ousted him as leader. As SPO leader he pushed for a merger between the SPO and the Radical Party to form the Social Democratic Radical Party of Werania (SRPO) in 1978. Ostermann subsequently led the SPRO to win the 1979 election in a coalition with the Weranic Section of the Workers' International (OSAI) beating the National Consolidation Party.

Being elected on a avowedly socialist programme Ostermann implemented radical economic policies, nationalising key strategic industries and attempting to guide the economy through price and wage controls. These measures did not increase economic growth and saw the government become estranged from the Euclean Community worried about Werania's debt and inflation issues. As such in 1982, a year before the next federal election Ostermann undertook a radical u-turn in economic policy emphasising the privatisation of state-owned enterprise, deregulation of economic sectors especially banking and housing and liberalising labour laws. These policies are considered to have laid the groundwork of late 1980's economic recovery. The policies saw the SPRO lose ground in the 1983 election as the OSAI collapsed as a political force; as a result Ostermann formed a purple government with the Modern Centre Party.

In his second government Ostermann proposed deeper Euclean integration and several pioneering socially liberal policies, decriminalising homosexuality and abortion and promoting more comprehensive women's rights. Ostermann maintained the coalition's majority at the 1987 election but in 1990 saw his popularity collapse as his Minister of the Treasury Wolfgang Löscher resigned due to differences in economic policy. In 1991 he was ousted as Prime Minister by party opponents led by Löscher. Ostermann retired to the Herrstag following the 1991 election retiring from politics in 2000. As Werania's longest serving Chancellor, Ostermann is considered a controversial figure in Weranian politics. His supporters laud his economic reforms as having led to the prosperous Weranian economy of the 1990's and 2000's, that he was a crucial figure in supporting Euclean integration and that he was a pragmatic and shrewd politician being one of the most successful social democratic leaders in history. Ostermann's opponents meanwhile accuse his government of leading to greater inequality and social division, for overseeing the "neoliberalisation" of the left and later in his tenure be willing to turn back on his electoral promises to sponsor the coalition government. The Statesmen newspaper characterised Ostermann as "undisputedly the most important Weranian Prime Minister since the war".

Early life

Ludolf Ostermann was born in 1940 in Arnwert the third of six children and the first son. His father Reilef Attema and mother Goikje Kramer both had middle class backgrounds with Attema's father being the owner of a tobacco shop. His family were supporters of the National Consolidation Party and its predecessor the Catholic Social Party.

Considered a bright child, he attended the Saint Thomas Grammar School where he was seen to excel in history, maths and Ruttish whilst his extracurricular interests included swimming and football. He was made a prefect from 1956-1958, but to his chagrin was passed over from the position of head boy.

Attema was given a scholarship to the Royal Arnwert Academy in 1958 to study for a bachelor degrees in politics. Whilst at the Royal Arnwert Academy Attema became involved with student politics, joining the National Consolidation Party. Attema was noted as being an "intelligent but often lazy" student by his tutor whilst possessing "superb rhetorical skill". Whilst at university he was made vice-president of the university's NKP association and was seen to be influenced by young radicals in the association that proposed economic liberalism and chaffed at the conservatism of the party leadership, then dominated by Jorgan Zijlstra.

Attema moved to study for a bachelors degree in corporate law in 1961, wherein he further graduated in 1964 to subsequently join a law firm, Miedema & Sons as a barrister. Within Miedema & Sons Attema began to cultivate links with important businessmen most prominently Getse Posthuma, whilst also becoming more involved in local NKP politics in Arnwert. His history In 1962 he was elected to the Arnwert Gemeenteried as a member of the NKP, and soon became a prominent fixture in local politics often working in poor areas of Arnwert to help ensure lower crime and efficient housing provision. Attema was soon regarded as a popular local politician as he was seen as being "in touch" with the local population.

Political career

In 1955 Ostermann was placed on the SPO's party list for the election that year. He was elected to the Volkstag being placed 104th on the party list. In his early years as a member of parliament Ostermann was noted for his frequent interventions in debates and general cordial attitude he cultivated with other MP's. He became close to party modernisers such as Rudolf Wiefelspütz, the then party-leader. Ostermann would soon tour the country in working class areas drumming up support for the SPO and talking with local councillors where he promised to sponsor plans for urban development, bolstering his standing amongst the party's grassroots.

Wiefelspütz government

In 1963 following the election that year Chancellor Rudolf Wiefelspütz picked Ostermann to become Minister of Health Services, with Ostermann being the youngest member of Wiefelspütz's cabinet. Wiefelspütz regarded Ostermann as future prime minister materiel and a fellow moderniser. Upon becoming Chancellor Wiefelspütz aimed to spearhead a bill to legalise abortion, but the issue was regarded as divisive in the conservative Catholic nation. As Minister for Health Services Ostermann proposed several solutions to deal with "Option A" whilst minimising the political damage of the government.

Ostermann as Minister of Health Services in 1961

In March 1972 Ostermann proposed an abortion law that would have made the practice legal for cases of maternal life, mental health, health, rape, fetal defects, and socioeconomic factors within 24 weeks of pregnancy. The proposal - seen as radical at the time - was purposefully amended to make it more limited to remove cases of fetal defects and socioeconomic factors and limited to 12 weeks of the pregnancy. The amendment process enabled the government to marginalise hardline anti-abortion activists and court moderates on the issue onto the government's side. This shrewd strategy led to Ostermann being further praised as an effective moderniser, but his alleged duplicitous nature (being at first strongly supportive of the radical bill before being equally critical of it when promoting the compromise) aroused the suspicion of the left and right wing factions of the party. Wilhelm Reinhardt, the than-Minister of Finance and a right-wing factional leader, called Ostermann "one of the many sycophants around Chancellor Wiefelspütz".

Pittermann government

When Wiefelspütz was forced to step down as Chancellor in 1965 by Gustav Pittermann the new Chancellor promoted Ostermann to be Minister of the Economy. As Minister of the Economy - where his portfolio included overseeing government expenditure, financial management, and the operations of government - Ostermann built a tense working relationship with Chancellor Pittermann, who he had not supported for the party leadership. Pittermann unlike Ostermann was seen as a party traditionalist and sceptical of the party modernisers that were quickly rallying around Ostermann as party leader following the retirement of Pittermann.

During the late 1960's the economy suffered from high inflation and unemployment (stagflation) leading to the SPO's liberal allies to question the state centralist policies promoted by Pittermann and instead advocate for a radical social market economy. Ostermann was not amongst this line of thought but soon started to associate with liberals and right-wing members of the SPO that were criticising the Pittermann government for its continued socialist, interventionist economic policy.

As such during his time as Economy Minister Ostermann came to clash with Pittermann over the issue of government spending, with Ostermann calling for a reduction in government expenditure and exercising restraint over public finances. Pittermann overruled Ostermann, stating that the policies would lose the SPO support from trade unions and the electorate. However when the Radical Party voted in favour of ending their confidence agreement with the SPO over Pittermann's economic policies (thereby causing the collapse of the government) Ostermann defended the government for "staying true to socialism" and attacking the Radical Party as the "running dogs of capitalism".

The 1970 election however saw the electorate punish the SPO for failing to revive the economy with the party losing to the NKP. Pittermann remained party leader, but appreciating the increasing influence Ostermann had within the party made him deputy leader. .

Election as leader

Ostermann's long term at the chancellery, lacklustre handling of the economy and most importantly electoral setback in 1991 led to more open dissent within the party. A group of four high ranking ministers - finance minister Wolfgang Löscher, defence minister Franz Weißenberg, social affairs minister Josef Neustädter and education minister Ilse Plassnik (known as the gang of four) - soon started to agitate for the removal of Ostermann as party leader and his replacement with Löscher. Ostermann's oldest ally, Johannes Schallenberg, had retired at the 1991 election leaving him with few allies in cabinet.

Wolfgang Löscher with Defence Minister Franz Weißenberg announcing Löscher's second leadership bid.

Ostermann's position became more untenable after 54 SRPO MP's crossed the floor to vote against a government bill to increase taxes on cigarettes on the 30th August 1991. With the parliamentary party in disarray Ostermann decided to call a leadership election on the 17th September to catch his opponents in the party off guard and shore up his own support within the parliamentary party.

Löscher's supporters concluded that he did not have the numbers to win a leadership election. As such he instructed his supporters not to forward his name and to obscure the number of supporters he had. The election saw Ostermann re-elected party leader with 82 MP's supporting him and 25 abstentions against him. Industry Minister Steer stated that the overwhelming endorsement of Ostermann led to the leadership office to in hindsight "lull itself into a false state of security...we were totally oblivious to the disquiet within the party". Plassnik later confirmed that over 20 pro-Attema MP's had voted for Ostermann in 1975.

As the economy worsened in March 1977 the Amalgamated Federation of Trade Unions announced a strike over the issue of wage controls. Whilst the government quickly came to a resolution support within the NKP for Stellingwerf's leadership evaporated as he was seen to give to many concessions to the trade unions. As such on the 6th April Attema after consulting potential supporters for his leadership launched a leadership challenge against Stellingwerf, arguing "change is needed if we are to face the challenges of the 1980's".

Stellingwerf believing his position was fundamentally strong did not heavily campaign whilst Attema lobbied backbenchers for their support. The election was seen to ignite divisions in the party that had long been simmering, with the older conservative wing that had dominated the party since its creation and defined by its consensus, cautious paternal to politics being challenged by young MP's frustrated with the dominance of the conservative wing and wanting to introduce a more ideologically focused, combative style of politics. Attema was seen by a large part of the parliamentary party as a charismatic moderniser, whilst the cabinet mistrusted his links to businessmen and his association with what was seen as radical economic liberals.

The election saw Attema win 69 MP's to Stellingwerf's 42. Stellingwerf resigned as prime minister and NKP on the 12th April with Attema being sworn in as Prime Minister.

Prime Minister

1983 election

1989 election

Economic policy

Social policy

Foreign policy

Fall from leadership




Personal life