When the SPD leadership meets on Sunday to mark the beginning of the year, the two politicians who are currently the most talked about in the party will not be there: Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht and Interior Minister Nancy Faeser. Lambrecht has been a problem figure in the public eye for some time, she has bad press, and the Union opposition is demanding her resignation.
Faeser, on the other hand, has taken office after a few teething problems, and she is increasingly being praised in the party. But the federal government could lose her as a minister this year if she runs in Hesse as the SPD candidate for the office of prime minister. Nothing has been officially decided yet, at the beginning of February Faeser and the Hessian comrades want to make a decision. Of course, the situation of the two ministers is not an issue in the deliberations of the presidium and party executive. However, there is plenty to talk about during the coffee breaks.
This is especially true for Lambrecht. The defense minister recently caused a stir with a video on New Year’s Eve. In front of the backdrop of exploding firecrackers, her hair tossed in the wind, she spoke a few sentences that were difficult to understand. For example: She gained “special impressions” from the Ukraine war and had “many encounters with interesting and great people”. The little film that Lambrecht published on her private Instagram account was described as embarrassing in the media.
Lambrecht’s thoughtless appearances on social media
The criticism was directed at the already technically unsuccessful appearance, but also at the content, because the minister dealt with the situation in Ukraine with little empathy and did not even recall the victims of the war. It reinforced the impression that Lambrecht was unable to fulfill her role. Many social democrats have been shaking their heads since then, asking why the minister is doing such a thing. In the SPD parliamentary group, for example, there is talk of “great astonishment and bewilderment”. It will be interesting to see how the matter will be discussed at the board meeting at the weekend. There is an indication that Chancellor Olaf Scholz is also not very enthusiastic.
Lambrecht has already had experience with thoughtless posts on social media. Last summer, she was caught in the media fire after her son posted a photo of himself flying in a Bundeswehr helicopter on Instagram. The swank photo that Lambrecht had taken herself, as she later had to admit thanks to a court decision, appeared tasteless, despite the fact that the minister had properly billed for the private onward flight to Sylt. Other images, such as the appearance in high heels during a visit to the troops in Mali, Africa, in April, gave the impression that Lambrecht did not want to warm up to her position.
Lambrecht is often spoken of disparagingly among social democrats. She has no relationship with the defense and is clueless when it comes to military issues. She doesn’t know the simplest facts, for example what a division, what a company is, they said about her back in the summer. “When the army inspector says we need a wheeled division, they don’t know what is meant,” was one accusation. That is why she cannot independently evaluate suggestions from her company.
Lambrecht clashed with Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) in early December when she asked for more money to buy ammunition. The minister had his state secretary Steffen Saebisch refuse in writing. “I have to say that you did not express the need to procure ammunition mentioned here, either during the negotiation of the special fund and its economic plan, or in the course of the parliamentary procedure.”
Secretary of Defense is not considered weak
Others, on the other hand, credit Lambrecht with the fact that crucial questions for the future of the Bundeswehr were answered under her leadership. For example, new American F-35 stealth jets were ordered for the Bundeswehr for almost ten billion euros, with which Germany is fulfilling the NATO alliance obligation of nuclear sharing. The issue of whether armed drones can be purchased to protect German soldiers during operations, a topic that has long been controversial in the SPD, was also resolved in favor of the armament. Lambrecht also initiated the withdrawal of the Bundeswehr from Mali and prevailed against the popular Green Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, the SPD parliamentary group emphasized. She is not considered a weak minister by MPs because she has achieved a lot in substance.