German Interior Minister Otto Schily has rejected opposition demands that he resign following mistakes his ministry made in handling a ban against the NPD.
German Interior Minister Otto Schily refuses to take the blame
Opposition Christian Democrats called for Schily’s resignation in light of revelations that his ministry had failed to inform the constitutional court that a key witness in the government’s petition to ban the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) had worked as an undercover agent for the domestic intelligence service.
The failure to notify the court has resulted in the postponement of the hearing until a decision can be made on the legality of the witness’s testimony.
Speaking in front of parliament on Wednesday, Schily admitted that officials in his ministry had known about the witness’s past activities and had shown poor judgement by not informing the court in time. He said he would ensure that the proper paper work was presented to the constitutional court so a new date for the hearing on the NPD’s ban could be scheduled. He said he did not believe the postponement of the initial hearing meant that the entire case against the NPD would be dropped.
Schily said he understood the court’s decision, but said he would have preferred an opportunity to comment personally on the situation before the court moved to postpone the hearing.
After carefully reviewing the facts, the Social Democrat said he had decided not to take the blame for his ministry’s blunder and he refused to listen to demands from the opposition parties that he step down. Schily also said that while ministry employees had made grave mistakes, he refused to fire them.
Instead the minister called for a special meeting of the three governmental bodies which petitioned to ban the NPD: the upper and lower houses of parliament and the cabinet. Together with legal advisors these three organizations should review the facts collected against the NPD and outline the best procedure for avoiding such mishaps in the future.
The opposition Christian Democrats (CDU) have criticized the ministry’s handling of the case against the NPD. Erwin Marschweski, the CDU expert for interior affairs, referred to the mistakes as a "scandal" and has said that Schily should bear full responsibility for the ministry’s "sloppy" work.
Marschweski and his colleagues have demanded that Schily step down, as his failure to prevent mistakes in his own ministry show that he is unfit to make important decisions for the country.