After the SPD's crushing defeat in Sunday's elections, Labor Minister Andrea Nahles will be the first woman to head the party's parliamentary group. It's a key role as the party is striving to reinvent itself.
Andrea Nahles, the outgoing Labor Minister, is taking on one of the most important jobs in Germany's parliamentary democracy – she will lead the Social Democrat (SPD) parliamentary party in the Bundestag. This could make her the opposition leader in parliament, depending on which coalition will form the new government.
After being nominated by party leader Martin Schulz, Nahles was voted in with a 90-percent majority. She told reporters that the SPD would be a "passionate opposition" but that "we'll fight back to power in four years' time."
"Starting tomorrow, we'll be right in their faces," Nahles said about how she would adjust to being out of the grand coalition and in the opposition.
Nahles is not exactly known for her charm; the expression she used sounds a lot worse in German and caused some consternation. In 2013, she attacked German Chancellor Angela Merkel with a rendition in the Bundestag of a popular line from the Pippi Longstocking theme song, "I'm making the world widdle widdle wid how I like it."
Sharpening the party profile
Nahles will be responsible for making sure the party presents a more or less united front in parliament. The best parliamentary group leaders are good talkers as well as assertive and decisive. And Schulz believes she has the confidence and assertiveness the SPD needs in its quest to modernize and include more women in key positions.
The SPD is determined to sharpen its profile to once again clearly set it apart from Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), its current senior partner in Germany's grand coalition.
In Sunday's national elections, theSPD garnered just 20.5 percent of the vote – its worst-ever result.
What is her own political profile?
The 47-year-old Nahles hails from the left-leaning wing of the party, which suits Schulz as he tries to steer Germany's traditional workers' party back to its roots.
Nahles has always been keen to boost workers' rights without alienating business leaders. But she is in her element when it comes to defending workers' rights. Recently, she told steelworkers at ThyssenKrupp that "we came here to fight" and that "I'll be there for you."The company is set to merge with India's Tata, which could lead to job losses.
As Labor Minister, she introduced Germany's first nationwide minimum wage in 2015 against fierce resistance in a country that has always favored collective bargaining agreements for individual sectors.
What was her path to politics?
Andrea Nahles was born on June 20, 1970, in Germany's western Eifel region. Her career could be described by what Germans call a "politician by profession," meaning that she has never worked outside of politics.
She joined the Social Democrats at age 18 and later founded one of the party's local associations in a village near her hometown of Mendig. At university, she studied German literature, philosophy and political science in Bonn.
In 1995, she became leader of the party's youth wing, the Jusos. In 2009, she became general secretary of the SPD before concentrating on her post as Labor Minister.
In her high school leavers magazine, she famously said of her career plans that she either wanted to be a "housewife or chancellor."