By dpa correspondents l Tuesday, January 17, 2023
BERLIN – Germany’s embattled Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht, who has faced growing criticism over her competence and public image, has offered her resignation to Chancellor Olaf Scholz, according to a statement seen by dpa.
Lambrecht faced criticism over the pace of a huge reinvestment plan for the armed forces, the sensitive issue of German arms deliveries to Ukraine, as well as questions over her messaging in public.
The latter included a New Year’s Eve message posted to Instagram in which Lambrecht discussed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine while fireworks exploded behind her, as well as a photo of her son in an army helicopter. Speculation over a possible resignation grew markedly in the past week.
She said on Monday that the “months-long media focus on me personally” had not allowed for a proper public debate about the role of the armed forces and German security policy.
“The valuable work of the soldiers and of the many motivated individuals in this line of work must be in the foreground. I have therefore decided to vacate my position,” she wrote.
As many as 60% of Germans surveyed wanted to see Lambrecht resign, according to an opinion poll from public broadcaster ZDF released on Friday. Half of the polled voters who support her Social Democratic Party (SPD) also said she should resign.
The conservative political opposition has repeatedly called for her resignation. Germany’s current coalition government is made up of Lambrecht’s SPD, the Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP).
Critics accused her of a slow start to procurement for the Bundeswehr’s rearmament programme and a lack of expertise.
Ahead of Monday’s statement, the defence policy spokesman of the conservative CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Florian Hahn, had welcomed the idea of her resigning.
“I would have the greatest respect for such a step,” the politician told the newspapers of the Funke Mediengruppe. “It would be a reconciliatory conclusion and a positive outlook for our Bundeswehr.”
Lambrecht had taken over the Ministry of Defence with the start of the new three-party coalition government in December 2021.
Previously, she had been minister of justice in the last cabinet of Angela Merkel, and had also led the Family Ministry after the resignation of Franziska Giffey.