Berlin (dpa) – After years of discussions about her thesis, Federal Minister of Family Franziska Giffey (SPD) is stepping down. The 43-year-old asked Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) to be released on Wednesday – just over four months before the general election on September 26.
However, Giffey wants to remain the best SPD candidate for the Berlin House of Representatives election, which will take place on the same day. There she wants to become the first reigning mayor of the capital. There was criticism from the other parties.
Giffey has been a member of the federal government for three years. Before that she was mayor of the Neukölln district of Berlin. To justify her dismissal, she referred to the ongoing proceedings at the Free University of Berlin (FU). The university has long looked at whether it legitimately obtained the PhD in political science in 2010. After much criticism, she has already given up the title.
In a written statement, Giffey spoke of a “tough” procedure that had not yet been completed. “Members of the federal government, my party, and the public are already entitled to clarity and commitment.” When she would receive the resignation of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, she was initially open. Until then she will remain in office. Minister of Justice Christine Lambrecht (also SPD) will later, in addition to her current department, take over the official affairs.
Giffey inquired Wednesday of her decision at the weekly federal cabinet meeting. Merkel said, “I make this decision with great respect, but I also accept it with equal regret.” You have worked very well and confidently with Giffey. Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said Giffey had “achieved a lot for the children and families in this country.” The SPD candidate for chancellor added, “She is also an assertive politician with a heart and a backbone.”
The SPD does not want to fill the post until the elections. Lambrecht also has to take over Giffey’s office. This means that the actual intended representation scheme of the federal government does not apply. According to this, Education Minister Anja Karliczek (CDU) would have headed the Ministry of Family for the coming months.
The FU had filed a complaint with Giffey in the fall of 2019 for shortcomings in her thesis, but did not withdraw her doctorate. After much criticism, a new test was started last year. Giffey made it clear a long time ago that even a possible withdrawal of the title would not change her top candidate in Berlin. However, she had announced her resignation as a minister in this case.
At the beginning of May, the FU announced that its presidium had meanwhile received a report from a new review committee. Giffey has four weeks to comment. In her statement, the politician said she would use the deadline to comment. “I stand by my statement that I wrote my work to the best of my knowledge and belief,” said Giffey. “I’m sorry if I made mistakes.”
CSU Secretary-General Markus Blume thinks the dismissal is insufficient. “In fact, she (…) is only taking a break to focus on the election campaign for the post of mayor (in Berlin),” he told the Funke media group newspapers. The AfD also called for the scrapping of the highest candidacy. The Greens spoke of a tactical dismissal.