Saxony-Anhalt’s state parliament president has been under criticism for days. A photo is circulating of him listening to a Roland Kaiser concert from the balcony of his office with others – free of charge.
Pop singer Roland Kaiser gives a concert on the cathedral square in Magdeburg and the President of the State Parliament of Saxony-Anhalt watches free of charge from the balcony of his office together with guests: For days there has been discussion about a photo showing the President of the State Parliament Gunnar Schellenberger during the concert.
The 63-year-old has now apologized for a combination of official and non-official matters. “I did a stupid job and I would like to apologize in public,” said the CDU politician in Magdeburg. He used a press conference held by his parliamentary group on the results of an exam to make a brief statement. Questions were not allowed.
With guests on the balcony of the state parliament
At the beginning of the week, the “Mitteldeutsche Zeitung” published a private photo showing Schellenberger with guests on the balcony of the state parliament. From there it was possible to watch a concert by Roland Kaiser (“Santa Maria”) on the cathedral square on a Saturday evening. Many other onlookers who had arrived without concert tickets had to stay behind barriers with privacy screens.
There was heavy criticism from the opposition, and the coalition also called for clarification. The Left and Green factions called for Schellenberger’s resignation on Thursday. “The behavior of the president of the state parliament is absolutely unworthy of the office,” said Eva von Angern, leader of the left parliamentary group. “The state parliament is the place for political debates and not an exclusive VIP lounge for a concert on the cathedral square.”
Cornelia Lüddemann, who leads the Greens parliamentary group, described Schellenberger’s handling of the situation and his mistakes as catastrophic. “In self-caused crisis situations, he acts inappropriately, unworthy and incompetently for the office.” Lüddemann continues: “We are therefore asking him to resign in order to avert further damage to the office and the state of Saxony-Anhalt.”
Schellenberger had previously emphasized in his statement that he wanted to “link the official with the non-official”. “Due to the heat in the office and the volume of the concert, the meeting was only possible to a limited extent and I completely misjudged that.” The President of the State Parliament announced that he would like to answer all questions in detail at the meeting of the Council of Elders on August 31.
Various questions remain unanswered
Various questions are still open for von Angern and Lüddemann, such as what the subject of the official meeting in the office was. They also want to know who the participants in the meeting were and whether official minutes exist.
CDU faction leader Guido Heuer supported Schellenberger on Thursday. “The president has just sprinkled ashes on his head. Yes, clever things can be done differently. You can say that. But I have no reason to doubt the statement of our state parliament president and I won’t do that either.” Heuer continued: “As the CDU parliamentary group, we stand by our president. Period.”
It is said to have been a professional appointment
Media representatives have already sent numerous inquiries to the state parliament administration about the process, and many questions have not yet been answered. A spokeswoman for the state parliament informed the German Press Agency, among others, that it was a professional appointment. Among other things, an employee of a Max Planck Institute was there. The appointment on the Saturday took place from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in the President’s office. There were also drinks. Schellenberger didn’t drink anything because he was driving himself.
Schellenberger has been President of the State Parliament since July 2021. He has been criticized on several occasions, including for patronizing a private tennis tournament in his Schönebeck constituency and for his controversial approach to recruiting Uzbek workers, in which there is said to have been a lack of agreement.
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