Saskia Esken

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Saskia Esken
Esken in 2019
Co-leader of the Social Democratic Party
Assumed office
6 December 2019
Serving with
Norbert Walter-Borjans (until 11 December 2021)
Lars Klingbeil (since 11 December 2021)
Preceded byMalu Dreyer (acting)
Member of the Bundestag
for Baden-Württemberg
Assumed office
22 September 2013
Personal details
Saskia Hofer

(1961-08-28) 28 August 1961 (age 62)
Stuttgart, West Germany
Political partySPD
Roland Esken
(m. 1993)
Alma materUniversity of Stuttgart

Saskia Christina Esken (née Hofer; born 28 August 1961) is a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) who has been serving as co-leader of the party since being elected in December 2019 (alongside Norbert Walter-Borjans) and re-elected in December 2021 (alongside Lars Klingbeil). She has been a member of the Bundestag since 2013 and has been IT specialist in the early 1990s.

Early life and career[edit]

Esken was born 1961 in Stuttgart. After unfinished studies in literature and sociology, she obtained, in 1991, a professional certificate in IT. She worked in this field until the birth of her children in 1994.[1]

Political career[edit]

Early beginnings[edit]

Esken entered the SPD in 1990.

Member of the German Parliament, 2013–present[edit]

Esken has been a member of the German Bundestag since the 2013 elections, representing Calw. In parliament, she served on the Committee on Internal Affairs (2018–2019), the Committee on the Digital Agenda (2013–2019), the Committee on Education, Research and Technology Assessment (2013–2017) and the Parliamentary Advisory Board on Sustainable Development (2013–2017).[2] In this capacity, she was her parliamentary group's rapporteur on privacy, IT security, digital education, and eGovernment.

Within her parliamentary group, Esken was part of working groups on digital issues (since 2014) and on consumer protection (since 2018) as well as of the Parlamentarische Linke (Parliamentary Left), an association of left-wing MPs.[3]

In the negotiations to form a coalition government under the leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel following the 2017 federal elections, Esken was part of the working group on digital policy, led Helge Braun, Dorothee Bär, and Lars Klingbeil.

Co-Chair of the SPD, 2019–present[edit]

Together with Norbert Walter-Borjans, Esken announced her candidacy for the 2019 Social Democratic Party of Germany leadership election.[4] During her campaign, she vowed to force Chancellor Merkel and her CDU/CSU bloc to renegotiate the coalition treaty or push for an “orderly retreat” from the government.[5] Esken and Walter-Borjans won the November 2019 run-off against Klara Geywitz and Olaf Scholz.[6]

Shortly after, both Esken and Walter-Borjans stepped back from their threat to pull out of Merkel’s government and instead signed off on a “compromise”, calling for measures including a “massive” investment program and a minimum wage of 12 euros per hour.[7] At the time, this was widely interpreted as a move designed to mend relations between leftwing and centrist factions in the SPD.[8]

In August 2020, Esken and Walter-Borjans released a joint statement announcing Olaf Scholz as the party’s candidate to succeed Merkel in the 2021 elections.[9]

Other activities[edit]

Regulatory agencies[edit]

Non-profit organizations[edit]

Political positions[edit]

In March 2019, Esken opposed the European Union's Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market and its article 13.[12]

Also in 2019, Esken called repeatedly for a renegotiation of the 2018 coalition treaty on issues such as government spending and climate change policy.[13]

Following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Esken became the member of her Social Democrats’ leadership to call on Gerhard Schröder to quit the party when he kept defending his close ties to Russia’s leadership.[14][15]


In mid-2020, the Berlin attorney general's office received hundreds of complaints accusing Esken of slander for using the term "Covidiots" on Twitter; Esken had said that protesters at a Berlin march threatened the health of others by violating social distancing rules and ignoring requirements to wear face masks. The prosecutors dismissed the legal complaints, arguing that Esken was exercising her constitutional right to express her opinion.[16][17]


  1. ^ "Deutscher Bundestag - Saskia Esken".
  2. ^ "Baden-Württemberg MdB- Europa Union Deutschland".
  3. ^ "Parlamentarische Linke - Unsere Mitglieder".
  4. ^ "Kandidatenrennen: Walter-Borjans und Esken wollen SPD-Vorsitzende werden". 28 August 2019 – via Spiegel Online.
  5. ^ Tobias Buck (5 December 2019), Germany’s SPD rows back from threat to quit Merkel coalition Financial Times.
  6. ^ Braun, Stefan (30 November 2019). "SPD-Basis entscheidet sich für das ganz große Experiment". Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  7. ^ Tobias Buck (5 December 2019), Germany’s SPD rows back from threat to quit Merkel coalition Financial Times.
  8. ^ Philip Oltermann (4 December 2019), Germany's SPD steps back from pulling plug on Merkel coalition The Guardian.
  9. ^ Guy Chazan (18 May 2022), Gerhard Schröder to be stripped of German parliamentary privileges Financial Times.
  10. ^ Members of the Advisory Board Federal Network Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Post and Railway (BNetzA)
  11. ^ Advisory Board Stiftung Datenschutz.
  12. ^ "Upload-Filter? Ich trinke sowieso nur Espresso - Saskia Esken". (in German). Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  13. ^ Tobias Buck (30 November 2019), Blow to Merkel as leftwingers win SPD leadership Financial Times.
  14. ^ Geir Moulson (25 April 2022), German ex-Chancellor Schroeder urged to leave Scholz party Associated Press.
  15. ^ Guy Chazan (18 May 2022), Gerhard Schröder to be stripped of German parliamentary privileges Financial Times.
  16. ^ Michael Nienaber (2 September 2020), German SPD leader can call anti-lockdown protesters 'Covidiots': prosecutors Reuters.
  17. ^ Merlin Sugue (2 September 2020), German SPD leader allowed to call protesters ‘Covidiots,’ officials rule Politico Europe.