Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser has announced her top candidacy for the SPD in the Hessian state elections in autumn. “Yes, I am running,” she wrote to her employees in the ministry in a letter that was available to the German Press Agency. She wanted to keep her ministerial post for the time being, she also told the “Spiegel”. Even in the event of an election defeat in Hesse, she wanted to remain in the federal cabinet, she made clear in the employee letter.

In difficult times, she assumed responsibility for the Federal Ministry of the Interior, wrote Faeser. “This responsibility obliges me to continue to carry out my duties just as clearly and seriously as before.” She will “continue to do her job with full force and passion,” she assured. The state election is on October 8th.

“A Big Matter of the Heart”

“Hessen is my home. Competing in Hessen is a matter close to my heart,” said Faeser in Berlin. “Just as I am the first woman to hold the position of Federal Minister of the Interior, I would like to be the first woman to head the Hessian state government. I am running to win.” After 25 years of CDU government, Hesse needs a breath of fresh air, said Faeser.

“We want good working conditions and fair wages. We want the best starting opportunities for all children, an affordable life from rent to public transport, consistent climate protection and respect and security for all people, no matter where they come from or how much they earn”, said the Hessian SPD state chairman.

The 52-year-old explained that she would remain Federal Minister of the Interior out of responsibility for Germany. She has the Chancellor’s full backing for this. It is a democratic matter of course that people who hold offices stand for elections. “I handle it just like Olaf Scholz and Armin Laschet in the federal election campaign, like Angela Merkel in many previous election campaigns and like all prime ministers who are running for elections this year,” said Faeser.

Times are too serious for a long election campaign anyway, wrote Faeser, referring to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. In addition, she wants to continue to implement domestic political reforms, as announced in the coalition agreement.

It is unclear who would succeed Faeser in office should the SPD win the election in Hesse. The former Interior Minister of Lower Saxony, Boris Pistorius, had been traded as a potential successor for a while. The SPD politician is now at the head of the Ministry of Defense. Since there was already criticism when Pistorius was appointed because the cabinet included more ministers than women, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) should then either look for an experienced woman in the party or initiate a major reshuffle of the cabinet.

Scholz: Candidacy not a problem for ministerial office

After the top candidate was announced, Scholz emphasized that he did not expect this to affect Faeser’s work as interior minister. “I can say that Nancy Faeser, who I know is a very, very conscientious woman, will do everything she has to do every day for the task she has,” he said in a question and answer session with citizens in Marburg, Hesse. “I think this is a highly professional, great minister who is doing a great job.”

In Hesse, the Social Democrats have been in opposition since 1999. The Christian Democrats are entering the race with the incumbent Prime Minister, Boris Rhein. Economics Minister Tarek Al-Wazir is running for the Greens, which have been part of the government since 2014. This Friday, Faeser is in Friedewald at the SPD’s Hesse summit.

Critical voices

The domestic political spokesman for the Union faction, Alexander Throm (CDU), said: “Faeser will now campaign in Hesse for months and lead the Ministry of the Interior as a part-time job in one of the most difficult times.” In doing so, she is putting her career aspirations above responsibility for internal security.

“In the current crisis situation – cyber threat, migration crisis, extremism and terror threats – Germany needs a full-time interior minister,” demanded the deputy chairwoman of the Union faction, Andrea Lindholz (CSU). If Faeser really took her job seriously, she would not have run for the top candidacy.

Critical voices came not only from the opposition. “In times like this, you can’t dance at two political weddings at the same time,” said the Greens parliamentary group leader in the Bundestag, Konstantin von Notz, the news portal “t-online”. He warned: “The months of double burdens that are now emerging must not be at the expense of the country’s internal security.” There are numerous urgent domestic political legislative projects.

The police union is also skeptical about Faeser’s plans. “We have a very difficult political situation because of the Ukraine war and migration,” said Andreas Roßkopf, responsible for the federal police at the police union (GdP), the editorial network Germany (RND). The Federal Ministry of the Interior is also very demanding. “You’re really busy with it.”

The party and faction leader of the federal AfD, Alice Weidel, called for Faeser’s immediate resignation as minister. “This office is not intended to be misused as an election campaign platform,” she told T-Online.

The parliamentary manager of the SPD parliamentary group, Katja Mast, rejected the criticism of Faeser’s dual role. She said: “It is quite normal in a democracy for politicians to also hold offices during election campaigns.” In this respect, she advises “a little more serenity”.