BERLIN — Bavaria’s Premier Markus Söder will not dismiss his deputy Hubert Aiwanger despite numerous accusations surrounding an antisemitic leaflet from his school days.
Since there was no proof that Aiwanger had written the antisemitic pamphlet himself and the incident occurred 35 years ago, a dismissal “would not be proportionate,” the Söder told reporters on Sunday in Munich.
Leading members of the federal government had called for consequences after it became known that Aiwanger, the federal chairman of the right-wing Free Voters party, had been involved in distributing an anti-Semitic flyer during his school days and that fellow students had accused him of making the Hitler salute and antisemitic jokes at the time.
The Bavarian Minister of Economics was criticized above all for downplaying of the accusations. Several times Aiwanger spoke of a “dirt campaign” against him. Söder, with the center-right CSU party, criticized Aiwanger’s crisis management in his statement. He should have clarified the situation earlier and more comprehensively, Söder said.
Söder announced the decision after Aiwanger had previously answered his 25 questions about the affair. “The answers were not all satisfactory,” Söder said. Much was already known, little was new and some was not remembered, he said.
In answers released simultaneously to Söder’s press conference by the Bavarian State Chancellery, Aiwanger wrote that after finding the pamphlet in his school bag, he was threatened with the police by school administrators at the time. He again denied having written the pamphlet.
“My brother and I were in shock,” Aiwanger wrote. Aiwanger’s brother stated after the allegations became known last week that he had written the antisemitic pamphlet at the time.
“We will be able to continue the civil coalition in Bavaria,” Söder said. There would definitely be no coalition of his party with the Greens, he said, a few weeks before the state elections in Bavaria on October 6. “That concludes the matter from my point of view.”
Söder did not take questions from journalists.