Minister resignations: Which ministers have resigned – and who remained in office despite mistakes
Dusseldorf Two ministers recently had to resign. In addition to the NRW Minister of Agriculture Ursula Heinen-Esser (CDU), Federal Minister for Family Affairs Anne Spiegel (Greens) resigned on Monday. Both politicians had told the untruth about vacation travel during and after the flood. Now, nine months later, they have drawn the consequences.
Anne Spiegel said on Monday: “I’m doing this to avert damage from the office, which is facing major political challenges.” But not all federal and state ministers who made mistakes have also taken responsibility. An overview:
The Mallorca affair of the North Rhine-Westphalian CDU has already led to the resignation of Ursula Heinen-Esser. Now the pressure is growing on NRW Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst and his CDU Construction Minister Ina Scharrenbach.
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”. That said Thomas Kutschaty, SPD top candidate in the NRW state elections.
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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 to the Handelsblatt. “In this regard, Ms. Scharrenbach and Mr. Holthoff-Pförtner must also ask themselves questions about their understanding of their office,” emphasized the Greens politician.
>> Read also: SPD increases pressure on NRW Prime Minister Wüst
Franziska Giffey (SPD): Plagiarism affair
The mayor of Berlin was Anne Spiegel’s predecessor in the past legislative period. In May 2021, Giffey resigned after allegations of plagiarism. Just three weeks after her resignation, Giffey had her doctorate revoked by Freie Universität Berlin. The plagiarism scandal did not have any impact on the Berliner’s candidacy for the post of governing mayor.
Armin Laschet (CDU): Mask deal
The former CDU candidate for Chancellor and Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, was accused of nepotism in the corona pandemic. As Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Laschet had concluded a deal for mask production worth around 45 million euros with the van Laack fashion company.
The problem with this: Johannes “Joe” Laschet probably mediated the contact between Christian von Daniels, the managing director of van Laack, and Armin Laschet. Armin Laschet’s son is a fashion blogger. One of his partners for years was: van Laack.
At the time, the SPD demanded precise details about the conclusion of the deal. The deal with van Laack probably took place without a previous tender. However, this was a common procedure in the first weeks of Corona. In this way, Laschet was able to stay in office and even become a candidate for chancellor. Only a “taste” remained.
Jens Spahn (CDU): Mask affair
In the middle of the corona pandemic, allegations were also made against Laschet’s party colleague Jens Spahn. The Federal Ministry of Health is said to have bought unusable masks worth around one billion euros in spring 2020. Spahn did not sort out the inferior masks. Instead, he is said to have offered them to the homeless and Hartz IV recipients.
At the time, the SPD and the opposition suggested that Spahn resign. The voices did not fall silent as the pandemic progressed. Spahn had to justify his Corona management again and again. However, the allegations did not result in a resignation.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU): Thuringia election
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was CDU chairwoman and defense minister. In 2020, she drew political consequences after the FDP member of parliament Thomas Kemmerich was elected Prime Minister in Thuringia with votes from the AfD and CDU.
The joint election with the right-wing populists caused outrage nationwide and was also understood by liberals and in the Union as breaking a taboo. Kramp-Karrenbauer then gave up her party leadership and her ambitions to succeed Merkel in the chancellorship.
Andreas Scheuer (CSU): Toll affair
Hardly any minister has been criticized for as long as former CSU Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer. Scheuer did not have to resign. The car toll scandal led to a committee of inquiry and may cost the taxpayer several hundred million euros.
The car toll was stopped in June 2019 by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) as illegal. The ECJ justified the judgment by saying that the toll should only be incurred for foreign vehicles. The intended operators then demanded 560 million euros in damages from the federal government.
Olaf Scholz (SPD): Wirecard, G20, CumEx
Olaf Scholz was also at the center of some scandals. But neither CumEx, nor Wirecard nor the riots surrounding the G20 summit in Hamburg in 2017 had any consequences for the SPD politician – quite the opposite. Today Olaf Scholz is Chancellor. As Hamburg mayor, Scholz is said to have influenced the tax authority in the “CumEx” case.
In 2020, when the Wirecard scandal broke, Scholz was no longer mayor of Hamburg but federal finance minister. Since taking office in 2017, he has been responsible for the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, which is responsible for examining financial institutions.
According to the committee of inquiry, Olaf Scholz was politically responsible for the authority not fulfilling its task. Only the SPD saw things differently. The Wirecard scandal cost taxpayers 30 billion euros.
Ursula von der Leyen (CDU): advisor affair
Former Federal Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen bears “overall responsibility” in the advisor affair. The result of the investigative committee, which dealt with the system in the Ministry of Defense, which McKinsey and Co. filled their pockets.
The focus of the investigation was McKinsey and Accenture, who are said to have had excellent contacts with then State Secretary Katrin Suder. In the course of this, the applicable award criteria were probably not met. Von der Leyen let Suder do it – even when the first grievances became known.
As a result of the affair, the law and rules are said to have been broken. However, this did not result in the former defense minister resigning. Instead, Ursula von der Leyen became President of the European Commission.
Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU): Betrayal of official secrets
In 2013, the resignation of Hans-Peter Friedrich caused a stir. The Federal Minister of Agriculture resigned in February 2014 for allegedly betraying official secrets.
As early as 2013, his personality caused an uproar. At that time, Friedrich was still Minister of the Interior and had informed the SPD leadership about the pornography allegation against one of their colleagues.
Annette Schavan (CDU): Accusation of plagiarism
Annette Schavan was Minister of Education until her doctorate was revoked. The University of Düsseldorf withdrew this from the CDU politician due to allegations of plagiarism. The affair prompted her resignation from ministerial post in 2013.
Norbert Röttgen (CDU): Election defeat
The CDU foreign politician applied in 2020 to succeed Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and again in 2021 to succeed Armin Laschet for the office of CDU chairman. Röttgen lost the election against Armin Laschet. But from 2009 to 2012 Norbert Röttgen was at the top of federal politics. As Environment Minister, he was a member of the second federal government under Merkel.
It was also Angela Merkel who fired the CDU politician in 2012 because of the lost state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, in which Röttgen ran as the top candidate. The 46-year-old was massively criticized in the Union at the time, because Röttgen had left open during the election campaign whether he would stay in Düsseldorf even after a defeat. Röttgen remained the only minister ever dismissed by Merkel.
Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (CSU): Plagiarism scandal
The CSU politician Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg was long regarded as the Union’s shooting star and was even traded as a possible successor to Angela Merkel. In 2011, the then Minister of Defense caused the first major plagiarism scandal. The minister had largely copied parts of his doctoral thesis and had not marked them as quotations. zu Guttenberg lost his doctorate within two weeks and subsequently resigned from his post.
Franz Josef Jung (CDU): Information about the air raid withheld
In 2009, Labor Minister Franz Josef Jung resigned after taking office just 34 days earlier. During his time as a defense politician, the CDU politician withheld information about an air raid in Kunduz, Afghanistan.
Rudolf Scharping (SPD): PR deal
Just two weeks before the 2002 federal elections, reports of dubious dealings between Rudolf Scharping and a PR firm prompted his resignation. The SPD politician was defense minister at the time and was still up for re-election.
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