Did Hubert Aiwanger behave correctly when dealing with the leaflet affair? Did Markus Söder act correctly? The country is debating both issues. The first surveys paint a first picture.
After the decision of Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) to stick with his deputy Hubert Aiwanger (free voters), nationwide reactions from Jewish representatives to the Federal Chancellor remain divided.
“In the overall view, the Prime Minister’s decision is understandable for me,” said the President of the Central Council of Jews, Josef Schuster, according to the statement.
Criticism of Aiwanger’s communication
However, Aiwanger’s handling of the allegations about an anti-Semitic leaflet from the 1980s remains irritating. “So far I’ve missed Hubert Aiwanger’s real inner confrontation with the allegations and his behavior at school.”
Charlotte Knobloch, President of the Jewish Community in Munich and Upper Bavaria, said she even rejected Aiwanger’s apology. On Deutschlandfunk she said that the Free Voters chairman had contacted her.
“I made my opinion of him, of his person, very clear. I didn’t accept the apology.” There are “terrible words” that are in the room. But Knobloch also said that she accepted Söder’s decision to leave Aiwanger in office. In her opinion, the Bavarian Economics Minister would have used a dismissal for himself during the election campaign.
Söder announced on Sunday that he would not dismiss Aiwanger despite the leaflet affair and that he wanted to continue the coalition with the Free Voters after the state elections on October 8th. He suggested that Aiwanger regain lost trust and seek talks with Jewish communities.
Chancellor sober, SPD boss critical
The reaction of Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) was more of a balancing act. The chancellor “took note of” Söder’s decision, said government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit when asked at the government press conference in Berlin. “Markus Söder obviously believes that the information provided by Mr. Aiwanger is sufficient and, despite the allegations made in the past few days and weeks, he would like to continue working with him.”
SPD leader Lars Klingbeil was much more critical at the Gillamoos folk festival in Abensberg, Lower Bavaria: “He turned his back on Aiwanger,” said Klingbeil, referring to Söder.
At the more than 700-year-old festival on the Gillamoos, which is nationally known for the political speeches on the last day, prominent politicians spoke up this Monday. While Söder and Aiwanger no longer addressed the affair directly in their contributions, CDU leader Friedrich Merz praised his crisis management when he appeared together with the Prime Minister: “Very good, it was right to do it that way.”
Criticism also from the FDP and the Greens
FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai called Aiwanger’s behavior “unconvincing”. “It’s not about Mr. Aiwanger’s past, it’s about how he deals with it today,” Djir-Sarai said on Monday in Berlin.
Criticism also came from the Greens: party leader Omid Nouripour called for better clarification of the affair. “It’s about staging himself as a victim rather than showing remorse,” said Nouripour, referring to Aiwanger in Berlin.
Söder said on Sunday that a dismissal would not have been proportionate. Aiwanger should have cleared up the allegations earlier, more decisively and more comprehensively. On Thursday, a committee in the Bavarian state parliament will deal with the topic in a special session requested by the Greens, SPD and FDP.
Survey: Majority finds Söder’s decision correct
According to a survey, 58 percent of Germans think Söder’s decision to leave Aiwanger in office was the right one. 34 percent are of the opinion that Söder should have fired Aiwanger, according to a Forsa survey for “Stern”. 8 percent did not provide any information. The data was collected by the market and opinion research institute Forsa for the RTL Group Germany, as stated in a statement.
According to the survey, approval is particularly high among voters from the CSU (92 percent), the AfD (86 percent), the CDU (77 percent) and the FDP (72 percent). In contrast, the majority of supporters of the SPD (65 percent) and Greens (71 percent) thought it was right to dismiss the Free Voter politician.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.