Otto von Hößlin

Otto von Hößlin
Horst Seehofer Senate of Poland 01.JPG
44th Chancellor of Werania
Assumed office
28 June 2019
MonarchCharlotte II
DeputyKäthe Schickdanze
Preceded byViktor Oberhauser
Leader of the National Consolidation Party
Assumed office
3 August 2015
Preceded byGünter Schaefer
Personal details
Born (1952-06-24) 24 June 1952 (age 68)
Malstadt, Wolfsfled, Werania
Political partyNational Consolidation Party
Spouse(s)Julia Neumark
Alma materUniversity of Malstadt

Otto von Hößlin (born (1952-06-24)24 June 1952, aged 67) is a Weranian politician who is currently the Chancellor of Werania. The leader of the National Consolidation Party since 2015 von Hösslin previously served in several ministerial roles including in Economy and Industry (1999-2003) Health Services (2003-2007) and Defence (2009-2011).

Prior to entering politics von Hösslin worked as a corporate lawyer representing Retenbank and ÖE Holdings (the state-owned oil company in Werania) before being elected to parliament at the 1991 general election for the NKP. In 1999 he entered the cabinet of Rasa Šimonytė as the Minister of Economy and Industry. He served in the role until 2003 when he became Health Minister and in 2009 Defence Minister in the cabinet of Dietrich Wittmann. When the NKP lost government in 2011 von Hösslin ran for the NKP leadership representing the national conservative wing of the party but he was defeated by Günter Schaefer who represented the moderate, neoliberal wing.

In 2015 von Hösslin became NKP leader where he steered the party to the right, supporting more right-wing populist policies. This led to a rise in support for the NKP which led to the NKP to become the largest party in the 2019 election. He subsequently formed a government with the Democratic Alternative party

Von Hößlin is seen to be a national conservative in his party, supporting economic nationalism and social conservatism. He describes himself as a "Sotirian democrat".

Early life

Otto von Hößlin was born on the 24 June, 1952 in the city of Malstadt in Wolfsfled. Von Hößlin was the second child and first son of Ludwig von Hößlin, a jurist who came from a minor noble family. His mother, Karin Berta von Neumann, came from the much more prominent von Neumann family with his great-grandfather Andreas von Neumann having served as the president of the Volkstag during the 1890's for the Conservative Party. His family have been described as conservative and Catholic with a "provincial mindset".

Education

Von Hösslin was educated at the Saint Thomas Preparatory School, an all-boys private school located in rural Cislania, for his primary education. His secondary education was also at an all-boys private school, the Sternberger Gymnasium graduating with his abitur in 1970. He attended the University of Malstadt studying a bachelors degree in law from 1970 onwards after passing the entrance exam that year.

Von Hösslin graduated from university in 1974 and worked as an apprentice (Rechtsanwaltsanwärter) for the Jungmann Law Firm based in Maldstadt from 1974-1977. After completing an apprenticeship and spending ten months working as a clerk in at a local court von Hösslin became eligible to take a law exam in 1978 which he passed, enabling him to be officially employed as a lawyer (Rechtsanwalt).

Business career

Von Hösslin with ÖE Holdings CEO Markus Stücklen in 1984.

Following his graduation as a lawyer von Hösslin worked in a corporate capacity for the Weranian banking group Rentenbank from 1978 to 1982. He left Rentenbank in 1982 to work for ÖE Holdings, the state owned oil corporation in Werania.

Whilst working for ÖE Holdings von Hösslin successfully defended the group against several lawsuits put forward by various groups that sought to legally oppose various oil projects set up across rural Werania. In a television interview in 1985 von Hösslin accused environmentalist groups in Werania of trying to seek attention rather then positively contribute to society.

In 1986 he was assigned to ÖE Holdings foreign division and worked variously in Zorasan, Nuxica and Cassier. In 1991 he announced that he would be resigning from the company in order to run for a seat in the Volkstag for the National Consolidation Party.

Political career

Von Hösslin had joined the National Consolidation Party (NKP) in 1971 whilst still at university after seeing NKP minister and future chancellor Johannes Zollitsch speak at a political rally. He applied to become a candidate in the 1984 and 1987 elections in his native Gothberg but lost pre-selection each time. In 1991 as part of NKP leader Edmund Blaurock's reforms greater emphasis on candidate selection was given to younger people in the private sector; von Hösslin was as such approved to run in a safe rural seat in Bonnlitz-Ostbrücken. At the 1991 election von Hösslin was one of the 58 new NKP Volkstag members.

Von Hösslin quickly aligned himself with members of the NKP who supported both social conservatism and economic liberalism. A member of the Sotirian Nation Caucus, a loose grouping of socially conservative NKP members, von Hösslin alongside several of his colleagues attempted unsuccessfully to have abstinence-only sex education imposed on a federal level in 1992. In 1993 he voted against extensions to both abortion access and LGBT+ rights to adoption, motions which both failed to pass the Volkstag. In 1994 von Hösslin contributed to a policy document written by several NKP legislators which called for large scale tax cuts, curbs on trade union rights, an expansion of Werania's nuclear weapons arsenal and resistance to greater integration into the Euclean Community.

Von Hösslin was re-elected in the 1995 election which saw the NKP again defeated with party president Blaurock resigning. His successor, Rasa Šimonytė, made von Hösslin spokesmen on economic strategy and industrial relations. During the 1995-1999 term von Hösslin promoted a series of pro-business policies, being crucial in the NKP's proposals for economic governance if they regained power. These proposals included tax reductions across incomes and corporations, eliminating the capital gains tax, privatising transport infrastructure and withdrawing state subsidies to cooperatives that had been supported under the incumbent SRPO government. Von Hösslin also advocated restricting trade union rights including outlawing unions from engaging in political activity, allowing employers to sack and selectively redeploy workers if they chose, and sequestrating unions' assets if they broke industrial laws. He also stated that the NKP would consider implementing anti-union security laws. Within the NKP von Hösslin was viewed as a relative moderate compared to others who supported more free-market policies.

Government

Economy Minister

The NKP secured 250 seats in the 1999 election and 40% of the vote, allowing them to form a coalition government with the Democratic Alternative that enjoyed a large majority in the Volkstag. Von Hösslin was subsequently appointed as Minister of Economy and Industry where he was tasked with reducing the high unemployment rate in Werania, with the unemployment rate being 9%. Upon being appointed Minister von Hösslin stated that the government needed to implement "tough measures" to reduce unemployment and that reform to work laws was needed.

Von Hösslin at his first press conference as Economy Minister in 1999.

In April 2001 von Hösslin with the support of Šimonytė introduced the Employment Law that aimed to reduce trade union powers - this included allowing employers greater leeway to hire and fire employees, banning closed shops and introducing harsher penalties to trade unions that broke the law. Von Hösslin claimed that the law would remove the "blockage" that had made Weranian labour uncompetitive abroad and allow for unemployment to be substantially reduced. The Employment Law was strongly supported by major business groups, media organisations and the governing coalition but met fierce trade union resistance. Strikes were held throughout the country from April through to June 2001 as the law was debated in the Bundestag, as the opposition SRPO and Weranic Section of the Workers' International sought to prevent its passing.

The Employment Law was passed on the 17 June 2001 with no amendments which was credited partially to the uncompromising attitude of von Hösslin forcing the legislation through. The passing of the law was later credited with reducing unemployment from 8% in 2000 to 5% in 2004, although others pointed to a change in how unemployment is recorded. The Employment Law made von Hösslin one of the least popular ministers in the cabinet and it was predicted that he would be removed from the role throughout the reminder of 2001, although von Hösslin remained in office.

In the 2000 budget von Hösslin and Finance Minister Reinhold Metzinger successfully were able to reduce a large amount of taxes including corporation tax (reduced from 32% to 24%) capital gains (reduced from 30% to 15%) and the top band of income tax (reduced from 65% to 50%). Von Hösslin and Metzinger claimed that the tax reductions would enable greater economic growth and higher state revenue as capital will be moved from overseas back to Werania. The cut to capital gains tax led to a real estate bubble which was seen by the government as a positive development, although such an outcome was later seen as a contributing factor to the 2005 Euclean financial crisis.

Despite his pro-business views, over his tenure von Hösslin was seen to lose support from the business community. The Statesman writer Volkhardt Osterhaus observed that "after successfully passing the 2001 employment law and having been one of the key architects of the tax cuts in the 2000 budget, von Hösslin has been seen to lose enthusiasm in the government's economic reform agenda" and that compared to Metzinger was not seen as a key proponent of further deregulation within the cabinet. Business leaders were said to be "disappointed" in von Hösslin after the Minister confirmed that he would not support the introduction of tribunal fees for employees making claims against employers which had been proposed by the NKP in 1999.

Amid speculation that he would lose his role in cabinet following the 2003 federal election von Hösslin was shuffled to the position of Minister of Health Services. The reshuffle was seen as a demotion as economic liberals in the NKP demanded a more pro-deregulation Economy Minister replaced von Hösslin.

Health Minister

Von Hösslin with Šimonytė in 2004.

As Health Minister von Hösslin stated that his priorities would be to increase efficiency and reduce costs in the health sector. Under von Hösslin the government's previous policy of promoting public–private partnerships in the sector was continued and expanded. Critics stated that these policies were an attempt of backdoor privatisation but they were defended by the Health Services Ministry for improving services and reducing total expenditure. As in his last ministerial position von Hösslin was seen as having a "low key style" but that whilst such a style was unsuited to the Economy Ministry it was well-suited to the Health portfolio, usually a contentious issue for conservative governments in Werania.

As Health Services Minister von Hösslin increasingly came to clash with Chancellor Šimonytė over her more socially liberal policies. In October 2004 von Hösslin in his role as Health Services Minister proposed to cabinet to amend abortion laws so they only applied if there was a risk to a women's life or health or it was in the case of rape; the law received only lukewarm support from Chancellor Šimonytė who withdraw support for the law after there were large scale protests against its introduction. Von Hösslin criticised this attitude as "supporting the death of thousands of children" and called for the government to put morality over popularity.

During the 2005 financial crisis von Hösslin was criticised by some for his stint as Economy Minister, with von Hösslin's tax cuts being pointed to as a contributor to the crisis. Von Hösslin however defended his conduct as Economy Minister and stated that the government had performed "appropriately" to the crisis. Von Hösslin supported Šimonytė's run for a fourth term as NKP leader in 2006.

Following the 2007 federal election von Hösslin did not return to cabinet, with Šimonytė instead promoting Cecilia Mittermeier to Minister of Health Services. Von Hösslin's exclusion from cabinet was widely seen as due to his perceived lukewarm support for Šimonytė. In 2009 following Šimonytė's resignation von Hösslin supported the candidacy of Dietrich Wittmann for NKP leader and Chancellor. Wittmann would ultimately win the leadership contest.

Defence Minister

Upon the inauguration of the Wittmann cabinet in July 2007 von Hösslin re-entered cabinet as the position of Minister of Defence. As Defence Minister von Hösslin was considered to be "fiercely opposed" to large cuts in military expenditure from the austerity programme being implemented by the Wittmann cabinet.

Following his appointment as Defence Minister von Hösslin confirmed that Werania would deploy over 1,000 new troops for peacekeeping operations in Mabifia and Rwizikuru. Von Hösslin stated that if war crimes continued from the Mabifian government in the Makanian Conflict that Werania must debate "whether the free world can abide by further violence and destabilisation in the region". The continuing civil war in Nise also prompted a strong response from von Hösslin who stated that the ECTDO should discuss an "unilateral intervention in the region" to protect the Aurean Straits. Von Hösslin stated that the Defence Ministry would consider increasing its cooperation with the Council for Mutual Security and Development to counter ROSPO threats.

Von Hösslin meeting with generals at the Rupprecht Bormann Airbase in 2011.

When the military was set to make over €4 billion worth in cuts for the 2009-2010 fiscal year von Hösslin threatened to resign, eventually comprising to have €3 billion cut from the defence budget and 20,000 redundancies across the branches plus civilian employees at the ministry to be overseen. Some army veterans criticised the defence cuts for undermining Werania's defence, but they were defended by von Hösslin who said that the cuts would encourage the armed forces to move to more efficient forms of defence including upgrading its cyber-warfare capabilities. In 2009 von Hösslin confirmed that Werania would be "ready and willing" to perform a nuclear first strike if the situation demanded it.

The Defence Ministry came under criticism in April 2010 when the Täglicher Beobachter paper published an exposé that detailed endemic hazing, bullying and sexual harassment in the Weranian armed forces. Von Hösslin defended the armed forces stating there was "no proof the army is institutionally engaging in such activates" although did say that the Defence Ministry would investigate such cases. The ministry's investigation that was published in 2012 found that the allegations were largely correct and that as Defence Minister von Hösslin had been "instrumental" in covering up such allegations.

Von Hösslin was criticised in June 2010 when he signed a multi-million missile defence sale to Senria a year after Senria had rejected restrictions on missile development in the 2009 Nuclear Arms Limitation and Non-proliferation Talks. Von Hösslin's defence ministry had previously come under criticism for securing arms deals with Marirana, Rwizikuru and Yemet all of whom are considered to have poor human rights records.

Over Wittmann's term von Hösslin was seen as neither being a core supporter of Wittmann (who were mostly located on the new right faction of the party) nor one of his opponents (who mainly came from the liberal wings). In the 2011 federal election von Hösslin retained his seat in rural Wolfsfled but the NKP as a whole suffered a crushing defeat. Von Hösslin subsequently left the Defence Ministry to sit in the opposition benches in the Volkstag. Assessing his ministerial career journalist Hugo Hochberg stated that in his decade in the federal cabinet von Hösslin had shown that he was "aggressively mediocre whose hard-right views are obscured over a lack of policy intuition" but complimented him for being an "able administer whose rock-solid competence ensured his political survival"

Opposition

After the election loss outgoing Chancellor and NKP federal president Wittmann announced he would not be running for another term as NKP president when his term was due to expire in July 2012. A leadership contest was arranged for that date amongst a mixture of NKP parliamentarians, provincial delegates and party members. Von Hösslin announced his candidature early with his main opponent being former Finance Minister Roland Kaulbach being his main opponent. Von Hösslin gained the support of social conservatives in the party such as Ulrich Furler whilst Kaulbach was supported by liberal and moderate elements, with his pro-EC views being particularly emphasised.

Günter Schaefer (left) speaking with von Hösslin (centre) and other NKP officials.

Neither candidate was however considered to be a frontrunner - whilst von Hösslin was popular amongst the NKP base and membership Kaulbach polled better amongst general voters. Kaulbach was criticised for a stiff speaking style and was seen as arrogant by many in the party whilst von Hösslin was perceived to be to conservative for voters. A prominent section of the party supported drafting the popular Minister-President of Roetenberg, Günter Schaefer, for party leader. Schaefer after deliberation announced he would contest the leadership against Kaulbach and von Hösslin, instantly becoming the front runner. The election held in July 2012 saw Schaefer win with 57% of the electoral college voter with von Hösslin coming second with 35% and Kaulbach third with 8%.

Von Hösslin refused Schaefer's offer to become deputy leader but agreed to become the opposition's spokesman on foreign affairs, seen by many as a major concession to the Euclesceptic wing of the NKP. In his first major policy speech in opposition von Hösslin stated that a NKP-led government would implement a referendum on the Euclo if Werania was forced to finance a bailout for countries such as Amathia or Auratia. Von Hösslin garnered criticism after in an interview with OBR he was unable to name the Xiaodongese premier Yuan Xiannian.

During Schaefer's leadership von Hösslin was seen as lacking influence as Schaefer was seen to monopolise power amongst his colleagues from Roetenberg. Von Hösslin was said to have called Schaefer a "ratshit" in 2013 after Schaefer reportedly had failed to brief him that the NKP would support the government's embargo of weapons to Marirana before the NKP announced the policy. Journalists agreed that the working relationship between Schaefer and von Hösslin was poor and that Schaefer was "searching for an excuse to dismiss his foreign policy spokesperson".

During the 2015 federal election von Hösslin played only a small role in the NKP campaign which suffered from the start from poor polling. The election saw the NKP gain only a handful of seats leading to Schaefer to announce that he would not run for another three year term as NKP leader later that year. Von Hösslin became the first to announce his candidacy for the leadership and early on was considered the front runner for the role.

NKP leader

2019 election

Chancellor

Political views

Personal life