Ex-chancellor Schroeder's wife entering German politics

Sun Dec 16, 2012 10:14am EST

(Repeats to fix spelling in headline)

* Schroeder-Koepf seeks state assembly seat in Lower Saxony

* Former journalist comes out to fight for equal pay, integration

* Clintons not a role model, she says

BERLIN, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's wife said she is entering German politics and wants to win a regional state assembly seat next month to fight for pay equality but insisted she has no higher political aspirations.

Coming out of the shadows of her husband, who was chancellor from 1998 to 2005, Doris Schroeder-Koepf told Der Spiegel news magazine that she also wanted to focus on improving the integration of foreigners in her state of Lower Saxony.

"One chancellor in the family is enough," Schroeder-Koepf, 49, said in the interview published on Sunday when asked if U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served as a role model.

The wife of former President Bill Clinton was first elected as a senator from New York state in 2000, just before he left the White House at the end of his second and final term.

"I do know what it means to be chancellor," said Schroeder-Koepf, who was a journalist before marrying Schroeder in 1997.

"From a physical point of view I just couldn't do it. You need to be more robust than I am. These marathon meetings through the night, never getting enough sleep, the trips across so many time zones. I'm just not built for that."

Schroeder-Koepf, a soft-spoken woman who largely avoided the public spotlight until now while raising their children, is a state assembly candidate for the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) in the Jan. 20 election in Lower Saxony.

She said the SPD candidate for state premier, Hanover Mayor Stephan Weil, had asked her to run for a state assembly seat. She also said her husband, 68, was taking over more of the parenting duties now.

Schroeder-Koepf said she wants to fight for gender equality.

"There can't be a pay gap between men and women anymore," she said. "It's absurd that there's a 25 percent pay gap. That must be changed in wage talks and by political leaders. Equal pay for equal work. It's so obvious and needs to happen."

Schroeder-Koepf, who worked for Bild newspaper and Focus magazine before becoming Schroeder's fourth wife, also confirmed a rumour that she advised Schroeder to shorten the title of his economic reform programme to "Agenda 2010", a series of measures credited with boosting Germany's competitiveness from 2003.

"I read it in advance, like a lot of his speeches," she said. "It had a very complicated title that went on for a couple of lines, very bureaucratic. I urged Gerd and his team to use a snappier title. It ended up that I had to come up with a title."

(Reporting By Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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