A week after the affair began about Bavaria's Deputy Prime Minister Hubert Aiwanger and an anti-Semitic leaflet from his school days, Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) is back on the train. The Free Voter chairman answered Söder's catalog of questions about the events in writing and then sees "no reason at all for resignation or dismissal," as he told the "Bild am Sonntag". The 52-year-old called for an end to the "witch hunt".
From CSU circles it was said on Saturday morning that Aiwanger's answers would now be evaluated "in peace". Söder had pushed for quick answers to the 25 questions and said there shouldn't be any remaining doubts. He must now decide whether to dismiss Aiwanger or how to proceed. A new state parliament will be elected in Bavaria on October 8th.
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According to dpa information, Aiwanger's answers were sent on Friday evening. The State Chancellery confirmed receipt. At a public appearance on Saturday in the Hessian state election campaign, Aiwanger did not comment further.
He also told the "Bild am Sonntag" that he would like to continue the coalition with the CSU: "I wish that after the elections there could be a continuation of the coalition between us and the CSU, but of course that depends on the election result. " His voters are outraged by the "campaign".
At the event in Hesse, Aiwanger received encouragement from the Free Voters boss there, Engin Eroglu. Elections will also be held in the neighboring federal state on October 8th. Even if the allegations against the federal party leader and Bavarian government deputy that have been circulating for a week are "all bad", there is "not any proof" of this, said Eroglu near Wetter in northern Hesse. Aiwanger "assured credibly" that he did not write the leaflet and was "not the cause of this campaign".
Nothing was initially known about the content of the answers. The questions that the state chancellery had sent to the head of the Free Voters were not published either. The opposition FDP in the state parliament is calling for this to change quickly.
It should not be an exclusive exchange of letters between the CSU and free voters, said the chairman of the FDP parliamentary group, Martin Hagen. "Transparency is very important here so that trust in the state government is not damaged in the long term. That's why I expect Prime Minister Söder to make the questions and answers publicly available in a timely manner."
Aiwanger had already denied last Saturday that he had written the anti-Semitic leaflet that the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" reported on. At the same time, he admitted that "one or a few copies" were found in his school bag. Shortly thereafter, his older brother said he was the author. Further allegations were made against Aiwanger himself over the course of the week. He apologized on Thursday afternoon.
The President of the Central Council of Jews, Josef Schuster, criticized Aiwanger on Friday evening in the ZDF "Heute Journal" for his handling of the affair. Referring to Aiwanger's public apology, Schuster said he found it problematic "that in the same breath with this apology the topic comes up again, that he sees the whole thing as a campaign against himself".
Schuster also criticized Aiwanger's statement in the "Welt" that the Shoah, i.e. the genocide of European Jews during the Nazi era, was being misused for party political purposes. "What I hear from this sentence is what one understands from a victim-perpetrator reversal. So that an attempt is now being made to turn the victims into perpetrators," explained the head of the Central Council.
The problem is not the leaflet that is in the room, even if Aiwanger obviously grew up in a strange environment. "But the point is that I would have expected him to fully distance himself from it immediately. And it took quite a long time for him to come up with that apology last night."
Former SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel, on the other hand, backed Aiwanger. "Why should young neo-Nazis get out of the right-wing extremist scene when they see Hubert Aiwanger as an example, that 35 years later you are still publicly branded for the madness of your own youth?" Gabriel wrote on Friday on the online platform X, so far known as Twitter. Then you could "save all the dropout programs."