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Söder maintains his head of Economy despite the scandal over an anti-Semitic pamphlet

The Prime Minister of Bavaria, the conservative Markus Söder, decided this Sunday to keep his head of the Economy and leader of the Free Voters formation, Hubert Aiwanger, in office, despite the scandal surrounding an anti-Semitic pamphlet that was found in his power when he was still in school. “The matter is settled,” said Söder when closing the open debate on Aiwanger and the demands for resignation against him for an alleged sin of youth, which in Germany usually has serious consequences. An inopportune scandal, which also occurs just over a month before the elections in Bavaria

“It has not been easy, but my decision is firm,” stressed the also president of the Christian Social Union (CSU), who commented that ten days after the scandal broke out there is no evidence that Aiwanger wrote the pamphlet and that he cannot make decisions. based on media speculation. Söder acknowledged, however, that his number two has been very unfortunate in managing the crisis. The reaction of him apologizing “late, but not too late,” for his mistakes when he was young has undermined his credibility, the Bavarian leader said.

To pass Söder’s exam, Aiwanger had to respond in writing until last Friday to a list of 25 questions about the case posed by the CSU. The answers “were not all satisfactory,” acknowledged Söder, who also highlighted that the leader of the Free Voters also no longer remembered details about what happened then. He stressed, however, that Aiwanger again distanced himself from the pamphlet and its contents. A week ago, the Bavarian populist politician had categorically denied the authorship of the writing, although he acknowledged that “several copies” were found at the time in his school portfolio. Shortly after, Helmut Aiwanger, his older brother, acknowledged being the author of the controversial text.

“Repentance” and “Humility”

The pamphlet now brought to light by a liberal newspaper from Munich was distributed at the Aiwanger school in the Lower Bavaria region in the 1987/1988 school year, when the today controversial politician was 15 years old, and in the same offended and humiliated the victims of the Jewish Holocaust. In recent days, several of Aiwanger’s classmates have confirmed that he then propagated neo-Nazi ideology, taunted with Hitler salutes and made offensive jokes about Jews. Söder stressed that the events go back more than 35 years and that “nobody is today like he was at 15 years old.” But he also affirmed that “there cannot be a clean slate” and, pointing to the deceased, stressed that “it is advisable and important, although a long time has passed since then, to show repentance and humility.”

Despite everything, it was not until last Thursday when Aiwanger acknowledged for the first time having made mistakes in his adolescence. “I deeply regret having hurt feelings by my behavior around the pamphlet that is being talked about or by other accusations related to my youth,” said that day the head of the Free Electors, who expressly apologized to the victims of Nazism, but said also feel like a victim of a political campaign against him. “I was never an anti-Semite, I was never a xenophobe,” said Aiwanger, visibly affected by the political storm unleashed after the story of the pamphlet came to light.

Two days before those apologies, Söder had already indirectly urged his deputy in the Bavarian government to speak out to avoid a possible dismissal. The pamphlet is “disgusting and disgusting”, written in “the worst of Nazi languages” and “not a simple adolescent prank or a youthful peccadillo”, declared the head of the Munich executive, who commented that the simple suspicion about Aiwanger “damages the image of Bavaria and the personal credibility of the Bavarian Economy Minister.”

The scandal surrounding Aiwanger takes place a few weeks before the legislative elections in Bavaria, where the CSU governs in coalition with the Free Electors. Both parties have expressed their intention to repeat the alliance after the elections on October 8. All demographic surveys also confirm this possibility. Recent surveys by the GMS and Forsa institutes offer very similar results. In both cases, the Social Christians will reach 39% of the votes, while the Free Electors will reach 12% and 14%, respectively, thus adding up to a more than sufficient parliamentary majority. The Greens would obtain 14%, the Social Democrats 9% and the populists of Alternative for Germany between 13% and 14%. Liberals and La Izquierda would not overcome the barrier of 5% of votes and would be left out of the Chamber.

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