The president of Bavaria, Markus Söder, this Sunday during an appearance before the press without questions in Munich.LOUISA OFF (REUTERS)
The scandal caused in Germany by the news that the Bavarian vice president, Hubert Aiwanger, distributed an anti-Semitic pamphlet with Nazi language in his youth is being resolved for the moment without resignation or termination. The Bavarian president, the conservative Markus Söder, announced this Sunday that he is keeping his number two in office, who is also Minister of Economy of this land and leader of the Free Electors party (Freie Wähler), with which the Union governs in coalition. Christian Social (CSU) of Söder.
Bavaria, the second most populous state in Germany, holds elections on October 8. The scandal, which broke out a week ago, has shaken the electoral pre-campaign and scandalized a country that harshly punishes any manifestation of anti-Semitism. For Söder, “the matter is closed.” He is not going to dispense with his vice president because he assures that dismissing her would be a “disproportionate” response to an event that, for now, consists of the distribution of the pamphlet 35 years ago, when Aiwanger was studying at the institute. There is no evidence, Söder has assured in a brief appearance without questions, that he was the author of the pamphlet.
The Bavarian leader, who faces complicated elections, with a voting intention of 39%, very far from the absolute majority, had called on Aiwanger to respond in writing to 25 questions about the pamphlet, a handwritten sheet reproduced by the newspaper Munich Süddeutsche Zeitung. He did it over the weekend. The answers seem to have convinced him that the facts are not serious enough to oust him from the Government. Aiwanger, Söder assured during the press conference, has apologized for what happened. Of course, he did it “late,” he specified, in the only obvious criticism of the behavior of his partner, with whom he trusts to be able to re-edit the coalition.
The events occurred during the 1987-1988 school year, when the teenager Aiwanger was in high school. The teachers found in his backpack a typewritten sheet in which he made macabre jokes about the Holocaust. Simulating a fictitious contest to find the “greatest traitor to the country,” it proposed as first prize to the winner “a free flight through the chimney of Auschwitz,” in reference to the extermination camp where the Nazis murdered more than a million. people, mostly Jews.
The vice president of Bavaria and leader of the Free Voters, Hubert Aiwanger, photographed with a falcon at a public event this Sunday.LOUISA OFF (REUTERS)
Aiwanger has denied being the author of the pamphlet and has apologized for “hurt feelings,” but has not clarified what role he played in its distribution or confirmed who wrote it. His older brother, Helmut, has claimed authorship, has asked for forgiveness and explained that when he wrote it he was going through a bad time because he had failed his exams. The leader of the Free Voters has also not clarified whether in his adolescence he had Nazi sympathies, something of which several former classmates of his have accused him, who have reported that he gave the Nazi salute and that he rehearsed Hitler’s speeches in front of the mirror. At the time, Aiwanger was punished at school to prepare a presentation on the Third Reich.
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In addition to his late apology, the lack of clarity of the Bavarian vice president has caused outrage in Germany, who instead of giving explanations dedicated his appearance last week to denouncing being the victim of a witch hunt. Before the press, but without accepting questions, he said that he has not been anti-Semitic “since adulthood”, a phrase that more than one has read as a confession of his philonazism in adolescence.
The polls show a panorama in which the CSU, the sister party of the Christian Democrats of the CDU, will need a partner to form a Government as of October 8. With the far-right Alternative for Germany excluded by the cordon sanitaire applied to it by all democratic parties, it only has two options: repeat with the Free Voters, its favorite option, or try to convince the Greens. But this last option is practically ruled out by both sides. The CSU, a party further to the right than the CDU, has nothing in common with the environmentalists, whom many of its voters consider too left-wing. A bad result for the Free Voters, who in the latest polls had 13-14% of support, would put Söder in trouble.
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