Bundestag Vice President Oppermann collapsed on Sunday evening shortly before an appearance on a TV show. He was to be switched on live from Göttingen as an interview guest. SPD politicians reacted dismayed to the death of the 66 year old.
Bundestag Vice President Thomas Oppermann died completely unexpectedly. The 66-year-old had collapsed on Sunday evening during TV work with ZDF and was taken to hospital, as the TV station confirmed on Monday morning.
SPD leader Norbert Walter-Borjahns expressed his deep consternation on Twitter: “A severe shock for us all. We are deeply shocked and mourn with his relatives”. SPD Secretary General Lars Klingbeil wrote that he greatly appreciated Oppermann as a discussion partner and advisor. “His passion for politics was tangible for everyone. His much too early death shocked me. Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz twittered: “Our country is losing an accomplished politician, the Bundestag an outstanding vice president and the SPD a passionate and combative comrade. We all lose a friend – and are sad.”
According to ZDF, Oppermann was invited to be a live interview guest on Sunday’s program “Berlin direkt” on the topic of “Bundestag and Corona”. He was to be switched from the Max Planck Institute in Göttingen to the program. While the first contribution to the program was running, it suddenly collapsed. Oppermann was then transported to the University Hospital in Göttingen. “The whole ‘Berlin direkt’ team is dismayed and deeply affected,” said Theo Koll, head of the ZDF capital city studio.
Oppermann, who had grown up politically in Lower Saxony, had announced at the end of August that he would not run again in the coming federal elections. “After 30 years as a member of the Lower Saxony state parliament and the German Bundestag, now is the right time for me to do something different and to take on new projects,” he explained at the time.
Oppermann campaigned for a reform of the electoral law
Oppermann moved into the Bundestag in 2005. From 2013 to 2017 the lawyer was chairman of the SPD parliamentary group. He directly won his constituency of Göttingen four times in a row. Most recently, the 66-year-old was particularly committed to a reduction in the size of the Bundestag and a reform of the electoral law.
Born in Westphalia, he had previously sat in the Lower Saxony state parliament since 1990. In 1998 the then Prime Minister Gerhard Schröder (SPD) invited him to join his cabinet and made him Minister of Science. He remained so until the SPD’s election defeat in 2003.
Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) wrote that the news of Oppermann’s sudden death filled him with deep sorrow. “Thomas rendered outstanding services to our country and to social democracy with passion and understanding.
Recognition also came from his political opponents. Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU) twittered: “You were a great democrat and a really great guy. Your death leaves us stunned.” The vice-chairman of the FDP parliamentary group, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, wrote: “He was a fine man, a valued colleague and a convinced democrat, who we will miss very much.