Philipp Rösler, GOM (born 24 February 1973) is a German physician and former politician who served as Federal Minister of Economics and Technology and Vice Chancellor of Germany from 2011 to 2013.
Rösler was also Chairman of the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) from 2011 to 2013. Following the 2013 federal election in which the FDP left the Bundestag, he announced his resignation from the chairmanship. Born in Vietnam, Rösler was the first cabinet minister of Asian background in Germany. Before entering politics, Rösler was a cardiothoracic surgeon.
Early life and education
Rösler was born in Khánh Hung, Ba Xuyên Province, in South Vietnam (now Sóc Trăng Province, Vietnam) on 24 February 1973. No information regarding Rösler’s Vietnamese birth parents is known (which is why he has no Vietnamese name). He was adopted from a Roman Catholic orphanage near Saigon by a German couple who already had two biological children, and brought him to Düsseldorf, West Germany, in a plane of children’s rights charitable humanitarian organization Terre des Hommes at the age of nine months. He was raised by his adoptive father, who is a career military officer, after the couple separated when he was four years old.
Rösler grew up in Hamburg, Bückeburg and Hanover, where he graduated from high school in 1992. After training to become a combat medic in the German Bundeswehr (the Federal Defence Force), Rösler was accepted to study medicine at the Hanover Medical School. Following this, he continued his education at the Bundeswehr hospital in Hamburg. He earned his Doctorate in cardiothoracic surgery in 2002. He left the service as a Stabsarzt (a rank for German medical officers equivalent to an army captain) in 2003.
Rösler joined the FDP and its political youth organization, the Young Liberals, in 1992. He was secretary of the FDP in the state of Lower Saxony from 2000 to 2004 and served as chairman of the FDP parliamentary group in the Lower Saxon state assembly from 2003. From 2001 to 2006, Rösler was a member in the regional assembly of Hanover (district), where he was also deputy chairman of the parliamentary group. In May 2005, he was elected an observer of the federal FDP executive committee. He received 95% of the votes, the best result of that party conference. At the state party conference in March 2006, Rösler was elected as chairman of the Lower Saxon FDP with 96.4% of the votes; he succeeded Walter Hirche, who had decided to step down after twelve years at the helm. In April 2008, Rösler was confirmed as the Lower Saxon FDP party chairman, receiving 95% of the votes.
At the federal party conference in June 2007, Rösler was re-elected as a member of the party executive committee. The following month, he was elected to stand as his party’s main candidate in the Lower Saxon state election in January 2008. In that election, he received 10.9% of the votes in his local constituency, Hanover-Döhren. On 18 February 2008, Rösler was appointed State Minister for Economic Affairs, Labour and Transport as well as Deputy Minister-President in the cabinet of Minister-President Christian Wulff of Lower Saxony.
Life after politics
In January 2014 Rösler became a member of the managing board and Head of the Centre for Regional Strategies of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland, under the leadership of chairman Klaus Schwab. From late 2017 until early 2019, Rösler served as chief executive officer of New York-based Hainan Cihang Charity Foundation Inc., the largest shareholder of HNA Group.