SPD leader andrea nahles firmly expects constitutional protection agency president hans-georg maaben to be relieved of his duties. "Mr. Maaben has to go, and i’m telling you, he will go," nahles said in offenbach.
There are increasingly critical voices from within the CDU as well. Federal interior minister horst seehofer again backed the top official over the weekend. But the CSU leader, like chancellor angela merkel (CDU), is convinced that the grand coalition will not break up because of the conflict.
On tuesday, merkel, seehofer and nahles will again discuss a solution to the conflict. A first crisis meeting on thursday had not brought an agreement. Maaben comes under heavy criticism for his comments on xenophobic incidents in chemnitz. He had told the "bild" newspaper that he had "no verifiable information" that there had been hunts for foreigners there.
The SPD, which doubts maaben’s suitability in the fight against right-wing extremism, insists on his dismissal. Nahles said at the hessian SPD’s election campaign kick-off in offenbach that she could no longer trust maaben. Now it’s up to merkel to create clarity. Party deputy malu dreyer told "bild am sonntag" that maaben is no longer the right man for the job. "The chancellor must act."
But even CDU politicians are now keeping their distance. Lower saxony’s economics minister and CDU leader bernd althusmann told the "welt am sonntag" that maaben had undeniably made a serious mistake. "A credible apology from mr. Maaben would be appropriate now."However, should further accusations be confirmed, the facts would have to be re-evaluated.
The education minister of schleswig-holstein, karin prien, was even more explicit: "all those who now bear responsibility in the state, especially in the constitutional bodies, must defend our liberal democracy clearly and unequivocally against the enemies of our constitution," the CDU politician told the newspaper. Maaben has recently failed to live up to this claim. "I would therefore examine myself very carefully in his place, whether i can take responsibility for a further destabilization of the country."
The left SPD-flugel urges for announcement of the coalition, if maaben remains in office. However, this could lead to a new election, which the SPD fears – on the one hand because of dramatically weak poll ratings, on the other hand because the afd could score even stronger than before. The hopes of the party leadership therefore lie in a voluntary withdrawal by maaben.
Interior minister seehofer, as the head of the ministry, still sees no reason to dismiss maaben – "because his work has convinced me for many months, and because his statement to the interior committee was completely logical and consistent in itself," as he told the television station phoenix. He therefore does not see the grand coalition in danger: "the coalition will continue to work," seehofer said on the fringes of the CSU party conference in munich. On friday, merkel had made a similar statement.
Three weeks ago, a man was stabbed to death in chemnitz; three asylum seekers are suspected of the crime. After the crime, there were so-called funeral marches, protests and xenophobic attacks in the city of saxony. On friday evening, the appearance of a self-proclaimed "burgerwehr" caused a new stir. After the 15 men encircled a group of people of different nationalities, threatened them and slightly injured a man, they were arrested before they could leave. Arrest warrants were issued against six of them, according to the authorities.
Maaben is also criticized for his language with afd politicians. Bild am sonntag" now reported, citing intelligence circles, that the offices for the protection of the constitution in bremen and lower saxony had forwarded information about their respective afd youth organizations to the federal office before recently declaring both associations to be under surveillance. "In the federal office, the information remained unprocessed for six months," a constitutional protection officer entrusted with the case told the paper. A question from the newspaper to the federal office remained unanswered.
Grunen faction vice chairman konstantin von notz and his faction colleague irene mihalic called for a reorganization of the constitutional protection service. In the newspaper "welt am sonntag," they argued that the tasks should be divided: an "institute for the protection of the constitution" should take care of the clarification of anti-constitutional and anti-human endeavors by means of publicly accessible sources; as a second authority, an "office for danger detection and counterintelligence" should be established.
Maaben, on the other hand, urges massive expansion of his authority, according to "spiegel. By 2021, the federal office wants to increase the number of positions by 2900 to about 6000, the newspaper reported. The interior ministry did not want to comment on this, as the budget and business plans of the federal office are classified information.
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