In the middle of the Bavarian state election campaign, Deputy Prime Minister Hubert Aiwanger defended himself against allegations in connection with an anti-Semitic flyer from school days. After calls for clarification, including from Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) and also from the federal government, the Free Voters boss said in a written statement on Saturday evening: “I did not write the paper in question and consider the content disgusting and inhuman. ” He added: “The author of the paper is known to me, he will explain himself.” Neither then nor now was and was it his way to “rat out other people,” added the 52-year-old.

Shortly thereafter, Aiwanger’s brother, who was one year older, admitted: “I am the author of the leaflet reproduced in the press.” In a personal statement, which a Freie Wahler spokesman forwarded and which the brother himself confirmed in a telephone call to the German Press Agency, it said: “I distance myself from the unspeakable content in every respect and very much regret the consequences of this action . I was so angry at the time because I failed school.” The Bayern media group had previously reported on the admission.

The “Süddeutsche Zeitung” had reported on the leaflet, which was said to have been distributed more than 30 years ago. Through a spokesman, Free Voter boss Aiwanger had previously informed the “SZ” that he “didn’t produce anything like that” and complained of a “smear campaign”.

“One or a few copies were found in my school bag when I was a student at the time,” Aiwanger explained. “I was then summoned to be the director. I was threatened with the police if I didn’t clarify the matter.” His parents were not involved. As a way out, he was offered to give a presentation. “I accepted this under pressure. That was the end of the school matter.” Aiwanger added: “I can’t remember today whether I made a statement or passed on individual copies. Even after 35 years, I completely distance myself from the paper.”

Prime Minister Söder had immediately demanded clarification from his coalition partner. “These allegations simply have to be clarified now. They have to be cleared up completely,” Söder said at noon on the sidelines of a folk festival in Augsburg. “There are terrible allegations in the room. This leaflet is inhuman, downright disgusting.” Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser (SPD) had written to the Twitter successor X: “Anyone who mocks the victims of Auschwitz must not bear any responsibility in our country. The serious allegations must be clarified urgently.”

A new state parliament will be elected in Bavaria on October 8th. The CSU had always stated that it wanted to continue the coalition with the Free Voters after the election. All surveys left almost no doubt that this will also be possible – with the free voters were at 11 to 14 percent. The CSU has governed the Free State since the 2018 election together with the Free Voters.

Free voter parliamentary group leader Florian Streibl said in the evening that Aiwanger had “declared himself to the extended parliamentary group executive committee and credibly assured the MPs present that he was not the author of the horrible pamphlet”. Streibl: “At the same time, he distanced himself as much as possible from the contents of the document and from all forms of anti-Semitism.”

The parliamentary secretary Fabian Mehring (free voters) complained: It is remarkable “the campaigns that are being run against us six weeks before important elections, after we free voters are swimming on the wave of political success”.

After the allegations became known, demands for clarification and, if necessary, consequences came from almost all directions. The Bavarian state parliament president Ilse Aigner (CSU) had posted on X: “The allegations against Hubert Aiwanger weigh heavily – only he himself can credibly distance himself from this disgusting, anti-Semitic pamphlet and should do so quickly.” The AfD had demanded Aiwanger’s resignation. The Greens had also requested this in the event that the allegations should be confirmed.

The SPD had requested a special session of the state parliament. “The leaflet is right-wing extremism of the lowest drawer, which denigrates the millions of victims of the Holocaust and the Nazi dictatorship in the worst possible way,” said SPD parliamentary group leader Florian von Brunn. For the FDP, the head of the state parliament, Martin Hagen, had demanded: “Hubert Aiwanger must explain himself personally and clear up the allegations.”

Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann (FDP) wrote on X: “The accusation that someone is an anti-Semite weighs heavily. You should only raise it if you are sure of your case and the evidence is clear. If that is the case, one thing is clear : There is no place for anti-Semites in politics – neither in mandates nor in state offices!” The deputy CDU federal chairman Karin Prien had emphasized on X that the presumption of innocence applies to Aiwanger: “The publication of the allegations against @HubertAiwanger and the timing weigh heavily and are explosive in several respects, six weeks before the Bavarian state elections,” she wrote.

Aiwanger was last in the headlines nationwide in June because of controversial statements at a rally in Erding. Among other things, he said there that the silent majority had to “take back democracy”. As so often before, he was accused of populism.

Aiwanger, the strong man of the Free Voters in Bavaria and also nationwide, likes to see himself as a representative of what he calls the “normal population”, of farmers and craftsmen. In beer tents and at other appearances, he regularly railed against the Greens and the traffic light government.