Lower Saxony's interior minister Boris Pistorius will be the new defense minister and thus the successor to the outgoing incumbent Christine Lambrecht (both SPD). The change of office is to take place this Thursday. Pistorius said he had "humility and respect for such a daunting task". His appointment was viewed critically in the press.
"Badische Zeitung": Naturally, the lawyer is well acquainted with internal security, less with external ones. But in terms of type, he is someone who is believed to have the power to assert himself for the office. As interior minister, Pistorius has earned a reputation as a red sheriff: someone willing to crack down. This is a good basis for one who is now supposed to be a red general. The future minister has announced that he will stand in front of his troops. These are sounds that should be very welcome there. Pistorius has extremely difficult tasks ahead of him. Many have already failed in the urgently needed reform of the procurement system. In addition to his experience and his demeanor, one thing also speaks for him: he clearly enjoys a challenge. That sounds banal - but Christine Lambrecht's enthusiasm in this office was never really felt.
"Weser-Kurier": So what does the man bring with him for his future office? As Lower Saxony's Minister of the Interior, he is familiar with security issues as well as with procurement and personnel problems - with the police. There are certainly overlaps: the fight against Islamist terrorism, for example, is both a police and an international military task, see the Mali mission of the German armed forces.
"Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung": The SPD politician had had ambitions for a Berlin office for a long time. He felt he had outgrown Hanover just as he had in Osnabrück, where he was mayor. It hadn't worked out so far because the sometimes gruff minister found it difficult to curry favor within the party. He valued independence, was never the biggest string puller and diplomat. In Berlin, his edgy, one could say dashing manner can now help him just as much as his relative distance from the local political establishment. It makes him more part of the squad. His age is also just right. At almost 63 years of age, the office of defense minister crowns his career - after that he doesn't have to be anything else.
"Südkurier" (Constance): What a surprise. After Christine Lambrecht resigned, the chancellor chose Boris Pistorius. Fortunately, consideration for the quota of women in the cabinet counts less than experience and sure-footedness in political business. Lower Saxony is not lacking in that. In addition, as a conscript, he saw the inside of a barracks - which is now considered an advantage for a defense minister. Other things decide about his success in this difficult office. The Bundeswehr needs an independent head at its head who knows what the troops need to fulfill their mission and who, if necessary, will resent the chancellor's office if the delivery of weapons is once again slowed down. In these respects, Christine Lambrecht was the wrong cast. Pistorius is undoubtedly of a different caliber. He doesn't have a grace period.
"Volksstimme" (Magdeburg): The last time Boris Pistorius failed with federal political ambitions in 2019: he wanted to become SPD leader and failed. That unites him with Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who also failed and has now surprisingly made Pistorius the new Defense Minister. A decision with which the chancellor killed several birds with one stone. Pistorius has a decade of experience as Lower Saxony's interior minister and leads command-controlled authorities in a targeted and straightforward manner. With him, Germany has the first defense minister since Thomas de Maizière, who was once in the military. In addition, the SPD does not have to look for a new chairman, as would have been necessary if Lars Klingbeil had been appointed. Of course, the women in the SPD are angry because Scholz broke with the gender parity he had promised in the cabinet. The Chancellor must and will cope with this.
"Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger": Germany will be able to live well with the new defense minister. But that does not mean that the decision is completely convincing. This applies to the course over time. Allegedly, Lambrecht's replacement had been under discussion since January 3rd. Nevertheless, the chancellor had no replacement ready. This is bad management. The second open edge is that of parity. Scholz passed over a woman whose appointment would have been inevitable: that of military commissioner Eva Högl. She would bring the necessary tools with her and yet she was left out. That is not understandable.
"Stuttgarter Zeitung": As Social Democrat interior minister, Pistorius has earned a reputation as a red sheriff: as someone who is also prepared to take tough action. This is a good basis for one who is now supposed to be a red general. The future minister has already announced that he will stand in front of his troops. These are tones that should be very welcome there. The edgy Lower Saxony has the potential to become a department head who is loved and respected in the squad like Peter Struck recently. His tenure was almost 20 years ago.
"Allgemeine Zeitung" (Mainz): Pistorius has to build up a staff around himself whose flexibility and team spirit can best be measured by the Ukrainian army leadership - if the defense ministry weren't primarily known for its internal feuds between the branches of the armed forces and the management levels. At the same time, Pistorius has to do a cold start. On the question of how NATO can supply Ukraine with battle tanks against a Russian spring offensive, he is already following the British, the Balts and the Poles. And at the Munich Security Conference, the newcomer must be able to draw strategic lines for Germany's future role in European national defense in just one month. (...) One can only shout Glückauf to the man.
"Südwest Presse" (Ulm): But it's also clear: SPD man Boris Pistorius, no matter how tough he may be, can't do it alone. (...) The necessary changes in the German army and in those who look after it on the civilian side must come from all sides. Anyone who blames the miserable state of the German army solely on the supposedly incompetent department heads of recent years is making it too easy for themselves. They all came, made more or less big reform plans - and left before things could get really serious. However, that and the debates that reliably began about the heads at the top always offered the apparatus cover from the necessary changes. "Those up there" were to blame for the misery. And no, this is not a sweeping condemnation of all soldiers and civilian employees. Most would probably heartily wish for a better Bundeswehr. They should now work for it with all their might - and everyone, not just the new one at the top.
"Ludwigsburger Kreiszeitung": Politically and personally, Pistorius is a good choice. Technically, he has to familiarize himself with it, he is definitely not a military expert. He has to be able to do that quickly, and he has to get involved quickly with a team of advisors who can also show him the depths of his new ministry. With this decision, Chancellor Scholz is giving up parity among his ministers. But it is correct. In such an emergency, competence must triumph over gender. However, Scholz should not have sold parity so aggressively in the election campaign - he will have learned from it.
"Rhein-Zeitung" (Koblenz): The newcomer in office is not to be envied: The 62-year-old Pistorius, who has made a name for himself as a pragmatic domestic politician, must immediately implement the 100 billion euro special fund for the Bundeswehr Reform procurement and take care of the ailing device. The force wants decisions on the mandate in Mali, the issue of equipment is also high on the list, as is the lack of ammunition. These are mammoth political tasks. You can gain little politically at the post, but you can lose a lot. Pistorius is a politician who knows the depths of politics just as well as the glare of headlights. He now has to pass a real test, the strategically important department has to be managed better than was the case in the first year of the traffic light government. The country deserves it, the troops deserve it. The SPD has chosen the Ministry of Defense for 2021. Now the party, the new man at the top, has to deliver.
"Frankenpost" (Hof): It's okay that Chancellor Olaf Scholz has deviated from his principle of filling the cabinet equally with women and men. In this situation, it was all about finding the most suitable person possible, whether male or female. For Olaf Scholz and his chancellorship, a lot depends on Boris Pistorius meeting expectations as defense minister. This is particularly true in times of war in Europe. That's all that matters now.
"Berliner Zeitung": Unfortunately, Boris Pistorius is not a woman. Olaf Scholz once promised that at least half of the cabinet should be made up of women. Parity is therefore not a tit that recalcitrant women have in their heads. Societal gender relations should be reflected in the cabinet, if only to set a good example so that at some point there will be equal treatment in all areas. Now the men are in the majority again, very outdated. You can and should castigate that. To be on the safe side, the SPD women, who have always demanded parity, initially went to the diving station on Tuesday, possibly in order not to dupe Scholz. If you have found your voice again, you should at least bring up the topic.
"Augsburger Allgemeine": The SPD man from Lower Saxony is a political professional and was already a hot candidate for the office of Federal Minister of the Interior after the election. Uniforms and weapons are not something he internally rejects, like many leftists in the SPD. What he doesn't bring with him is in-depth knowledge of the Bundeswehr authority, in which officials keep a few fighters and not the other way around. Pistorius must therefore proceed with the machete and not with the pocket knife and the army to drive out the fear of being in the army.
"Die Glocke" (Oelde): The challenges facing the native of Osnabrück are enormous. During the war, he has no grace period or time to familiarize himself with the job. What's next for arms deliveries to Ukraine? For which projects is the special fund primarily used? How to speed up procurement and address the staffing issue? Decisions must be made quickly on these questions. Whether Pistorius succeeds in holding his own in the military department's ejection seat also depends on how quickly and comprehensively he can win the trust of the soldiers. That's why things weren't the best under Lambrecht's predecessor.
"Frankfurter Rundschau": Whether Boris Pistorius is the right person for the post of defense minister, he will have to show. At least he has what it takes to tackle the mammoth task ahead of him. As an assertive and communicative political manager, he should be able to take the soldiers and generals with him in order to gradually convert the Bundeswehr, which is only partially deployable, back into an army for national and alliance defense. He is also well networked within the SPD and, through his previous work as Interior Minister of Lower Saxony, knows most of the other actors in political Berlin. But alone he will not be able to cope with the various tasks. Above all, Chancellor Olaf Scholz should not repeat the mistakes with which he weakened the resigned Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht, and at least involve her successor Pistorius in decisions on defense policy - such as arms deliveries.
"Münchner Merkur": The 62-year-old Boris Pistorius is a political warhorse who has been hardened in many battles and, from everything that is known about him, a safe choice for the most difficult ministerial office that federal politics has to award in European wartime. His success is important: for the country, the troops and also the chancellor, whose reputation stands and falls with whether he successfully masters the turning point and restores Germany's ability to defend itself. The Bundeswehr soldiers, who in extreme cases have to risk their lives for their fellow citizens, deserve more than the disinterest Lambrecht showed them. They need better equipment, but above all they need more respect instead of the distrust that they all too often encounter in the "peace nation" of Germany. In his almost ten years as Interior Minister of Lower Saxony, Pistorius has shown how to stand in front of your emergency services.
"Nürnberger Nachrichten": What do you think of the future holder of command and command authority over the Bundeswehr? He is a well-versed political professional. Anyone who manages the difficult office of a state interior minister over a longer period of time largely "accident-free" no longer has to fear a task. The lawyer's biggest deficit is his lack of Bundeswehr expertise. That would not have been the case with Eva Högl, who has been the Bundestag's defense commissioner for two years. Boris Pistorius alone cannot guarantee the success of his mission. A lot will depend on whether he can gather a good team around him on the executive floor that, like himself, pays as little attention as possible to deadlocked decision-making processes.