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A regional interior minister, appointed head of German defense

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Boris Pistorius succeeds Christine Lambrecht, who resigned following embarrassing faux pas for the government of Olaf Scholz.

He was not on the possible list of candidates compiled by the German press. A regional politician, member of the Social Democratic Party, Boris Pistorius, was appointed Minister of Defense on Tuesday morning to replace Christine Lambrecht, who resigned the day before, following missteps which ended up damaging the image of the Scholz government. and the Bundeswehr.

Aged 62, the new head of the German army has been Minister of the Interior of the Land of Lower Saxony since 2013 and is best known for his skills in internal security, involving himself in particular in the problems of hooliganism, reception of refugees, and Islamism. He also sits in the parliament of Hanover, the state capital, and was mayor of Osnabrück from 2006 to 2013.

Widowed and father of two daughters, he had since founded a couple with the former wife of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Doris Schröder-Köpf, before their separation in 2022, recall the German media.

Despite his regional roots, Boris Pistorius had long cherished federal ambitions, going so far as to run for the presidency of the SPD in 2019, against Olaf Scholz. Neither of the two men had won then. He himself has been a member of the party since 1976, a longevity that makes him a historic activist.

In 2017, he was a member of Martin Schultz’s campaign responsible for security issues, an election then won by Angela Merkel. By appointing a man to replace Christine Lambrecht, Olaf Scholz breaks with the parity rule he had instituted when he was appointed, sparking criticism within the party itself, unless the Chancellor later proceeds to a new cabinet reshuffle.

Christine Lambrecht, for her part, had not lived up to her duties, according to a fairly general consensus in Berlin. As early as January 3, the day after the publication of a calamitous New Year’s video, she had told Olaf Schoz of her wish to leave her post. The information and the ensuing negotiations remained secret until January 16. Boris Pistorius will face the same problems as his predecessor and which traditionally make this portfolio in Germany a poisonous post. For lack of investment, the material state of the Bundeswehr is deplorable, note each year the parliamentary reports devoted to the subject, which the announcement of an envelope of 100 billion euros has not made it possible to improve.

In the short term, the new minister will have to manage the departure from Mali by May 2024 of German troops deployed as part of Minusma, i.e. a large contingent of up to 1,400 men. The Ministry of Defense is readily described as a bureaucratic monster difficult to reform, and which has struggled, until now, to embody the change of era promised by Olaf Scholz: that of an influential Germany assuming its security responsibilities on the European continent. .

Boris Pistorius is a “leader of men capable of imposing himself”, welcomed the Rheinische Post, the president of the reservists of the Bundeswehr, Patrick Sensburg. The reception of his appointment was well received within the coalition and criticized by the Christian Democrat opposition. “This is a B team recruitment”denounced to the DPA agency, the vice-president of the CDU / CSU group in the Bundestag, Johann Wadephul.

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