Helmut Heinrich Waldemar Schmidt (born 23 December 1918) is a German Social Democratic politician who served as Chancellor of West Germany from 1974 to 1982. Prior to becoming Chancellor, he had served as Minister of Defence (1969-72). As minister of finance (1972 to 1974), he gained credit for financial policies that consolidated the Wirtschaffswunder (economic miracle), giving Germany the most stable currency and economic position in the world. He had also served briefly as Minister of Economics and as acting Foreign Minister. As chancellor (prime minister) he focused on international affairs, seeking "political unification of Europe in partnership with the United States". He was an energetic diplomat who sought European co-operation and international economic co-ordination. He was re-elected chancellor in 1980, but his coalition fell apart in 1982 with the switch by his coalition allies, the Free Democratic Party. He retired from Parliament in 1983, after clashing with the SPD's left wing, who opposed him on defence and economic issues. In 1986 he was a leading proponent of European monetary union and a European central bank. He is now fully retired; since 2010 he has been the oldest surviving German Chancellor in history.