Flood disaster: “Mallorca affair”: SPD increases pressure on NRW Prime Minister Wüst
Berlin The SPD has accused North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) of lacking credibility in the so-called “Mallorca affair”. Despite the misconduct in his own ranks in the dispute over the vacation of Federal Family Minister Anne Spiegel (Greens), Wüst spoke of a credibility test for the SPD and Greens, said SPD Federal Deputy Thomas Kutschaty to the Handelsblatt.
Spiegel resigned on Monday. The NRW Construction Minister Ina Scharrenbach is still in office, although there are new insights every day about her trip to Mallorca for a private celebration with Environment Minister Ursula Heinen-Esser (both CDU). “The CDU does not pass the credibility test it spoke of itself,” says Kutschaty, who is running as the SPD’s top candidate in the state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia on May 15.
In addition to the Heinen-Esser, who has since resigned, Scharrenbach and the NRW Europe Minister Stephan Holthoff-Pförtner (CDU), who was also affected by the “Mallorca affair”, apparently “did not tell the Prime Minister the truth about their party trip for weeks,” said Kutschaty. Or Wüst wasn’t interested. “Both variants suggest that the CDU in this state government is in trouble.”
Heinen-Esser resigned after it became known that she had celebrated her husband’s birthday with other members of the government in Mallorca a few days after the flood disaster in July 2021.
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Spiegel was under pressure because she had also taken four weeks of family vacation shortly after the flood of the century. At that time she was environment minister in Rhineland-Palatinate.
Greens call for “maximum transparency”
In the flood disaster in mid-July 2021, more than 180 people died in Rhineland-Palatinate and NRW, 134 of them in the Ahr Valley. Hundreds more were injured, and thousands of homes and significant infrastructure were destroyed. Many people still live in emergency or alternative quarters.
Wüst had ruled out consequences for other cabinet members who had attended the birthday party in Mallorca. “Everyone involved has apologized for their misconduct, and the apologies were credible,” said the CDU politician.
The state chairman of the North Rhine-Westphalia Greens, Felix Banaszak, sees a need for further clarification. “Everyone who currently bears political responsibility should also fill it out appropriately,” said the member of the Bundestag. “In this regard, Ms. Scharrenbach and Mr. Holthoff-Pförtner must also ask themselves questions about their understanding of their office,” emphasized the Green politician, adding: “Maximum transparency about who was where and when and who was informed when is a requirement of the Respect for those affected by the flood disaster.”
Meanwhile, the “Mallorca affair” draws more circles. As the “Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung” (WAZ) reports, Scharrenbach’s State Secretary, Jan Heinisch (CDU), is said to have commented on the flood disaster last July from a three-week vacation in France.
Secretary of State to testify at Flood Inquiry Committee
The local ministry had confirmed to “WAZ” that Heinisch had been on vacation in France from July 3rd to 25th. The fire brigade association, whose state chairman is Heinisch, claims to have been informed of the absence.
As head of the association, Heinisch spoke publicly about the work of his colleagues after the disaster began in mid-July (“We will still be needed in the next few days”). He also sent condolences to the families of the firefighters who died. As the “WAZ” research revealed, both happened during the vacation in France.
The SPD now wants to summon Heinisch to the parliamentary committee of inquiry into the flood disaster, both because of his role as state secretary and because of his function as head of the association.
The SPD chairman in the sub-committee, Stefan Kämmerling, said that if the media reports about Heinisch were correct, he was an “important witness” and could help ensure that representation rules and responsibilities were “completely” clarified and that proposals for the future could be developed from them .
More: Survey for the NRW state election: CDU and SPD continue to be almost equal.