German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht intends to resign, several German media outlets reported on Friday.
What do we know so far?
The revelation was first reported by German newspaper Bild, with the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper following soon thereafter. Both cited unnamed sources and said she may step down as soon as next week.
However, on the record, spokespeople for German government only responded initially on Friday evening by saying that the reports constituted “rumors,” on which “we do not comment.”
The news follows a much-criticized New Year’s Eve message she posted on social media. During the message, Lambrecht mentioned the war in Ukraine with fireworks going on in the background.
Members of the opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU) criticized the message as tone deaf and urged her to step down.
Lambrecht belongs to Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD). Scholz said he still had confidence in Lambrecht following the much criticized video.
Lambrecht no stranger to scandal
Lambrecht was also criticized in May after it was reported that she let her 21-year-old son fly on a Bundeswehr helicopter to the popular northern German vacation island of Sylt.
As defense minister, she’s also been at the forefront of many of the rolling controversies and criticisms of 2022 pertaining to what military equipment Germany sends to Ukraine, and for the difficulties facing the German Bundeswehr at home.
Should Friday’s reports ultimately prove accurate, Lambrecht would be the most senior member of Scholz’s cabinet to resign.
The two names touted as possible successors are both Social Democrats, like Lambrecht — and a replacement will need to be to maintain coalition balance between the three governing parties, which includes the business-focused Free Democratic Party and environmentalist Greens.
Both work in roles connected to Lambrecht. One is the special parliamentary commissioner for the German military, Eva Högl, and the other is Siemtje Möller, a junior minister in Lambrecht’s team.
wd/msh (Reuters, dpa)
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