Katrin Dagmar Göring-Eckardt (born Katrin Dagmar Eckardt on 3 May 1966 in Friedrichroda, Thuringia [then part of East Germany]), better known as Katrin Göring-Eckardt, is a German politician from the German Green Party (officially known as Alliance '90/The Greens; German: Bündnis 90/Die Grünen). Starting her political activity in the now-former German Democratic Republic (East Germany) in the late 1980s, she has been a member of the German Bundestag since 1998. She became co-chair of her party caucus in the Bundestag (2002–2005) and the Greens' Vice President of the Bundestag on 18 October 2005, a position that she has held since then. In the November 2012 primary election, the Green Party chose her and Jürgen Trittin as the top two candidates for the Greens for the 2013 German federal election that took place on 22 September 2013. She is once again standing to be one of the top two candidates for the Greens for the 2017 German federal election.
In addition, between 2009 and 2013, Göring-Eckardt served as praeses of the synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany (German: Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland, abbreviated EKD) and thus as member of the Council of the EKD. However, during the federal election campaign in 2013, she stepped down from her office in the EKD.
The daughter of a dance teacher, Katrin Eckhardt was born on 3 May 1966 in the small town of Friedrichroda, which is in the district of Gotha, a district in the middle of Thuringia; at the time, Thuringia was part of East Germany, and the Gotha district was situated in the Bezirk Erfurt. She was an active member of the socialist youth organization the Free German Youth (German: Freie Deutsche Jugend, abbreviated FDJ). After getting her Abitur from the Erweiterte Oberschule (English: Extended Secondary School, abbreviated EOS) Gotha in 1984, she began studying Protestant theology at the University of Leipzig, where she studied until 1988 without gaining an academic degree.
Until the Peaceful Revolution and Die Wende in East Germany, Göring-Eckardt worked with the Arbeitskreis Solidarische Kirche (English: Working Group Solidarity Church, abbreviated as AKSK) and without any party membership. In 1989, she became a founding member of the East German political group called the Democratic Awakening and, in 1990, the citizens' movement Democracy Now. From 1990 to 1993, she was a member of the Thuringia State Executive of Alliance 90. As a member of the Thuringia state boards of Democracy Now and Alliance 90, she participated in the negotiations for the merger of Alliance 90 and the Greens, which in 1990, merged with the Green Party in the GDR to form an all-German party that currently exists: Alliance '90/The Greens.
After the merger of Alliance 90 with the Greens in 1993, Göring-Eckardt worked in the Thuringia Landtag with the same parliamentary group as a speaker for women's issues, family and youth. From 1998 to 2006, she was also a member of the party council of the Alliance 90/The Greens. From 1995 to 1998, she was also an employee of the Green politician Matthias Berninger; around that same time from 1996 to 1998, she was also an adjunct member of the Federal Executive for the Greens. Until 1998, she was a member of the Thuringia Green Party National Executive; in addition, she was also the state spokeswoman with interruptions during her service. In 2006, she was once again an assessor for the Thuringia Green Party State Executive Committee.
Prior to the ballot to determine the top two Green candidates in November 2012 for the 2013 German federal election, Göring-Eckardt initially spoke out against having a top two for parliamentary candidates, but instead favored a broad-positioned top team. One strong supporter of her candidacy was, amongst others, Boris Palmer (mayor of Tübingen), the party was also internally "realist". During her candidacy, she announced her intention to engage in discussing in particular how to resolve the further disintegration of society. She wanted to go to the people and especially appeal to those sections of the population there, because she said that the other values are crucial as the purely economic ones. An example factor for that choice was the electoral success of Winfried Kretschmann as Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg in 2011. Compared to competitors Claudia Roth and Renate Künast, who were seen as insiders, voters felt that the conservative Göring-Eckardt was a better choice than an outsider. Various media described her performance as a correction to the force rather than going further left when compared to first-place primary election winner Jürgen Trittin, a vote made by the now much more bourgeois party base. The rumored affinity to her black-green alliances notwithstanding, Göring-Eckardt spoke out after the primary election for a red-green coalition. Left party members evaluated the good performance rather critically; compared with the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, they called her an "alleged social politician".
Since 1998, Göring-Eckardt has been a member of the Bundestag; she entered the body as a list MP for Thuringia since the electoral system is mixed-member proportional representation with half of the seats being constituency-based and the other half being state list-based. From 1998 to 2002, she was First Parliamentary Secretary (or managing director), specifically from February to October 2002, as well as health and pension policy spokeswoman for the party's parliamentary group. From October 2002 to September 2005, she and Krista Sager became co-chairs of the Green Party faction. In the 2005 federal election, she was the Greens candidate for the Thuringia constituency Erfurt – Weimar – Weimarer Land II; however, she lost election for that constituency but still remained in the Bundestag because she was re-elected on the state list for Thuringia.
On 18 October 2005, Göring-Eckardt was elected as the Green parliamentary group's Vice President of the Bundestag with 479 votes in favor, 69 votes against, and 39 abstentions. Since the fall of 2005, she is also the cultural affairs spokeswoman in her group. In 2009, she sought again to win a constituency seat in her state, this time Gotha – Ilm-Kreis; she still could not gain a constituency-based seat but once again got re-elected on the state list. On 27 October 2009, she was re-elected Vice President of the Bundestag on the first day of the meeting of the new parliament with 473 votes in favor, 9 votes against, 5 abstentions, and 61 blank votes. In the primary election for the Greens' top candidates for the 2013 federal election on 11 November 2012, she was the second-place winner with 47.3%, beating Claudia Roth and Renate Künast; this made her and Jürgen Trittin, who won the most votes, the factions' top two candidates for the following year's election.
Since October 2013 she has been co-chair of the Green Party faction, together with Anton Hofreiter.
Göring-Eckardt is engaged with the Evangelical Church in Germany. Over the years, she took over the church environment, as well as a number of offices and functions. This would lead to her being elected a member of the Executive Committee Board of the Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag for a term of six years in 2007. Since 2007, she sits on the International Martin Luther Foundation Board of Trustees.
She is a member of the 11th Synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). It was on 2 May 2009 that she was elected Church President (Chairman) against the former Minister-President of Bavaria Günther Beckstein. She is a successor in the same office that Nordhausen Mayor Barbara Rinke also held.
In 2009, she was also the President of the 33rd Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag, elected in 2011 in Dresden. After winning the primary election as the top candidate of the Greens in November 2012, she announced that she would temporarily step down from her offices in the EKD until the end of the election campaign of 2013.
Göring-Eckardt is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Action Reconciliation Service for Peace e. V. She was also a 2009/2010 Board member of the non-profit association Atlantik-Brücke e. V. and, since May 2010, an official "godmother" of the Bethel Children's Hospice for dying children.
She also holds the following community positions:Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag (Bureau Board)
Federal Foundation for Mother and Child, Member of the Board of Trustees - until 22 February 2010
Atlantik-Brücke e. V. (member)
International Martin Luther Foundation, Member of the Board of Trustees
Bethel Children's Hospice (Godmother)
Evangelical Academy in Berlin, Member of the Advisory Board
Evangelical Wittenberg Foundation, Member of the Board of Trustees
Herman Art Foundation for the Promotion of New Testament Textual Research, Member of the Board of Trustees
Education Foundation of the Evangelical Church in Central Germany (EKM), Member of the Board
Haus der Geschichte, Member of the Board of Trustees
Zeitzeichen. Evangelical Comments on Religion and Society. magazine, volunteer co-editor
Party insiders, the media and the public view Göring-Eckardt as a member of the so-called "Realo" (English: Realist), or realpolitik/realist wing of the Greens. In addition she is considered to be a protagonist of conservative values with a green lifestyle. In the past she has based her conscience-based decisions on her religious views. Due to her strong localization in the bourgeois/middle class and good contacts with the center-right Christian Democratic Union (or CDU), she has been listed as a suitable candidate for discussions about forging CDU-Green or "black-green" coalitions (black being the CDU's color and green being the obvious color for the Greens). Her reputation of being friendly to the CDU is well-founded with her participation in the so-called Pizza-Connection (English: Pizza Connection) in the 1990s; the Pizza Connection was an informal conversation circle between the younger Green and CDU politicians with the name of the circle coming from an Italian restaurant in Bonn.
She was a supporter of Schröder's Agenda 2010 reforms.
After the end of the "red-green" coalition government (where the Social Democratic Party led by Gerhard Schröder and the Greens were in a coalition from 1998 to 2005), Göring-Eckardt profiled on different occasions that what she called her conservative values of sustainability, social compensation, and social justice are of particular concern to her.
Under the umbrella of the godparenthood program of Libereco – Partnership for Human Rights for political prisoners, Göring-Eckardt has been raising awareness for the imprisonment of Belarusian political activist Ales Bialiatski between 2011 and 2014.
In August 2012, Göring-Eckardt was one of 124 members of the Bundestag to sign a letter that was sent to the Russian ambassador to Germany, Vladimir Grinin, expressing concern over the trial against the three members of Pussy Riot. “Being held in detention for months and the threat of lengthy punishment are draconian and disproportionate,” the lawmakers said in the letter. “In a secular and pluralist state, peaceful artistic acts -- even if they can be seen as provocative -- must not lead to the accusation of serious criminal acts that lead to lengthy prison terms.”
In December 2014, Göring-Eckardt and fellow Green MP Luise Amtsberg visited the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan to learn more about the plight of Syrians fleeing the violence in the ongoing Syrian civil war that erupted in 2011.
Following the United Kingdom’s 2016 referendum on European Union membership, Göring-Eckart made a request to the German government on behalf of the estimated 10,000 Britons living and working across Germany to offer fast-track citizenship.
Göring-Eckardt is Lutheran. According to the CV listed on the German Bundestag's website, in the former East Germany, she was among the first female MPs to have a hyphenated name. She married Lutheran pastor Michael Göring in 1988; the couple have two sons. Michael Göring, also involved in the Green Party, retired from his profession in April 2013 at the age of sixty by claiming a reduced work-load. He has three children from his first marriage. Since 2011, both Katrin and Michael have been living separately, each having a different relationship.Michael F. Feldkamp (ed.), Der Bundestagspräsident. Amt - Funktion - Person. 16. Wahlperiode, Olzog, München 2007, ISBN 978-3-7892-8201-0.