Johannes Rau is a notable German statesman and the current president (Bundespräsident) of Germany.
Rau was born on January 16 1931 in Wuppertal, Nordrhein-Westfalen in a strongly Protestant family. After leaving school in 1949, he entered the publishing trade and gained his first experiences as a journalist. In 1954 he was appointed manager of a Protestant Youth publishing company, which specialized in publications on aspects of the Christianity as well as relations with developing countries. In 1962 he became a member of the board of directors and from 1965 to 1967 he served as chairman.
He joined the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and was elected to the Nordrhein-Westfalen's Diet (Landtag) in Düsseldorf in 1958. He served as chairman of the SPD's parliamentary group from 1967 to 1970, and as minister of science and research from 1970 to 1978, before becoming Nordrhein-Westfalen's Prime Minister in 1978. He was elected deputy chairman of the SPD in 1982 and was the Party candidate for the office of Bundeskanzler (Chacellor) in 1987 Bundestag elections. However, the party suffered a heavy defeat against Helmut Kohl's Chrisrian Democrats (CDU), and Rau then concentrated on his work as prime minister.
In 1994 Rau stood for election as Federal President (Bundespräsident) was defeated by Roman Herzog, the CDU candidate. Exactly 5 years later, on 23 May 1999, Johannes Rau was elected Roman Herzog's successor as President of the Federal Republic of Germany by the Federal Assembly in Berlin.
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