Federal government: Faeser in the election campaign? - Greens and Union against double role

A few days before the decision on the SPD's top candidacy in Hesse, the debate about a possible dual role for Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser is picking up speed.

Federal government: Faeser in the election campaign? - Greens and Union against double role

A few days before the decision on the SPD's top candidacy in Hesse, the debate about a possible dual role for Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser is picking up speed. The SPD politician herself has avoided a clear answer to the question of whether she will stand in the state elections in autumn this year. In coalition circles, however, it has been assumed for some time that she will stand as a candidate in her home state and remain federal interior minister, at least during the election campaign.

This Friday, Faeser, who is also the SPD chairwoman in Hesse, is to explain her plans at the SPD's Hesse summit in Friedewald - including a possible top candidate for the state elections on October 8th. A possible double role does not go down well with politicians from the parties, who also calculate that they also have a chance of becoming the state chancellery in Hesse. After the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" reported that Faeser had reached an agreement with Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) that she would initially remain Minister of the Interior in the event of a top SPD candidate in Hesse, criticism rained down.

Union: Would be irresponsible

"In these challenging times, when war is raging in Europe, when the security authorities have their hands full with Reich citizens, right-wing extremists and foiled terrorist attacks, it would be irresponsible to want to run the interior ministry in addition to an election campaign," said the domestic policy spokesman for the Union faction , Alexander Throm (CDU), on Tuesday. And: "That's why I'm asking her to resign if she becomes a top candidate."

In Hesse, the Social Democrats have been in opposition since 1999. The Christian Democrats are entering the race with the incumbent Prime Minister, Boris Rhein. Economics Minister Tarek Al-Wazir is running for the Greens, which have been part of the government since 2014.

The chairman of the Greens in the Interior Committee of the Bundestag, Marcel Emmerich, says that from his point of view it is "almost impossible to carry out these two tasks at the same time". Although Faeser would not be the first politician to start the state election campaign from a federal ministry, there are currently many major tasks in the Federal Ministry of the Interior - including civil protection.

FDP party leader Wolfgang Kubicki told the newspapers of the Funke media group (Tuesday) that the Federal Ministry of the Interior was "not a suitable campaign platform in these serious times". But there are also leading FDP politicians who trust Faeser that she can reconcile both.

For Faeser, the Federal Ministry of the Interior is on the one hand "a platform that she uses" to increase her awareness, says CDU politician Throm. The SPD politician is also criticized by the office, "because Germany is now isolated within the European Union on migration issues".

Difficult topic for the election campaign

In fact, migration and flight is currently a topic that is rather problematic for an election campaigner. According to surveys, the willingness to take in war refugees from Ukraine - mostly women and children - is still high. However, there is criticism from the Union and from some countries because of the recent increase in the number of asylum seekers and the promise that the traffic light government has not yet kept to make progress in the repatriation of those who are obliged to leave the country.

All the better for Faeser, one might think that the federal states also have to make a contribution here, and that as of this Wednesday an FDP politician will share responsibility. When the new special representative for migration agreements, Joachim Stamp, took office, the minister explained: "We are concerned with an overall concept: economic cooperation and qualification for the labor market on the one hand, but also consistent repatriations by the responsible federal states on the other. Migration agreements are an important building block for this."

Jump to the top of the country has often succeeded

The two SPD politicians and former Federal Ministers for Family Affairs, Manuela Schwesig and Franziska Giffey, have made the leap from Berlin to the head of a state government. That would not be a novelty in Hesse either. With the political weight as Federal Environment Minister, Walter Wallmann succeeded in 1987 in becoming the first CDU Prime Minister of Hesse. Before that, the State Chancellery had been firmly in the hands of the Social Democrats for decades. Could the SPD possibly pull off a similar coup in 2023?

Wallmann, then CDU state chairman, remained in office as Federal Environment Minister until he was elected Prime Minister. He then led a black-yellow coalition until 1991 - and lost to the Social Democrat Hans Eichel. In 1995, the Hesse CDU tried again to move into the state chancellery in Wiesbaden with support from the federal cabinet. However, Federal Interior Minister Manfred Kanther lost - and remained Federal Interior Minister.

Even with a prominent top candidate, an SPD victory in Hesse would by no means be certain: In an election poll last autumn, the CDU received 27 percent of the votes, the Greens and SPD each landed 22 percent. A three-way battle is looming, and a coalition will probably be needed to form a government. If the SPD then only becomes a junior partner, it is questionable whether Faeser will also return to Hesse as Vice Prime Minister. In Wiesbaden, it is hard to imagine that she would return to the opposition bench in the state parliament if she lost the election.