Coalition dispute over edathy affair: seehofer demands an explanation

An SPD politician has problems with the judiciary, a CSU minister falls over the affair. For Horst Seehofer, this does not fit together.

Wants to talk about the "way of cooperation" with the SPD: CSU leader Seehofer. Photo: dpa

CSU leader Horst Seehofer wants to name the successor to resigned Agriculture Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich on Monday. "Talks will be held in the narrower party leadership over the weekend and on Monday the Chancellor and the public will be informed," Seehofer said Saturday at a small CSU party conference in Bamberg. There is a lot of anger in the CSU about the SPD after Friedrich’s fall. "We will have to talk about how to work together," Seehofer said. A top coalition meeting is scheduled for Tuesday in Berlin anyway.

The agriculture minister had resigned from office the previous day because he had informed SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel that SPD interior politician Sebastian Edathy had been targeted by the judiciary. Because of this, Friedrich is now facing accusations of having broken official secrecy.

Many CSU politicians, for their part, are now seriously annoyed with the SPD because SPD parliamentary group leader Thomas Oppermann made the matter public at all. Because from the CSU’s point of view, Friedrich’s early information merely saved the SPD greater trouble – if Edathy had moved up to the cabinet and then had to resign as a member of the government. "It was a well-intentioned political solution," said Hans Michelbach, chairman of the CSU’s middle-class union. "There is an absolute need for clarification."

"I call on the SPD this weekend to clarify its behavior, its contradictions," Seehofer said. The CSU must "strongly reject" the SPD’s "talkativeness," he said. Seehofer also criticized the fact that demands for Friedrich’s resignation had been voiced from within the SPD: "It is an unusual occurrence when a coalition partner demands the resignation of a coalition partner."

In the CSU, calls for Oppermann’s resignation are now being voiced in turn: "He must draw the consequences," said Bavarian JU chairman Hans Reichhart.

"Lack of support was everywhere"

The ousted Friedrich rejected the accusation that he had violated official secrecy: The information about Edathy had been politically relevant, "not criminally relevant." If it had been criminally relevant information, "I would not have done anything," Friedrich stressed. "I knew he was on a list with some unpleasant stuff," the ousted agriculture minister said.

"They were photos, (…) but not child pornography." That’s all he knew, he said. He had to inform Gabriel, he said. "In my view, there was no other way." To explain his withdrawal, Friedrich admitted that he had also lost the backing of the CDU: "Lack of support was everywhere."

Friedrich would not say anything about the anger in the government alliance: "In the coalition, I don’t know what the mood is." At least Friedrich has nothing to criticize about SPD leader Gabriel. His account of what happened was correct, he said: "Gabriel got to the heart of the matter very fairly." The 200-plus delegates rose from their seats for Friedrich’s welcome, and Seehofer paid him respect: "You have the solidarity of the entire party." Friedrich is also expected to retain his party offices and remain CSU district chairman in Upper Franconia, Seehofer said.