Maaßen reshuffled from one post to another

The head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency Hans-Georg Maaßen has been stripped of his current post but is to become state secretary of the Interior Ministry. He recently came under fire over his statements regarding the incidents in Chemnitz. Commentators see this as a compromise solution, but will it end the row within the government and appease the opposition?

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La Repubblica (IT) /

A clever compromise

For La Repubblica's Berlin correspondent Tonia Mastrobuoni, Maaßen's change of position is a good compromise:

“A compromise that has saved the Merkel government from its second government crisis within the space of a few months. ... Maaßen was the powerful chief of the domestic intelligence agency; now he's just a state secretary at a ministry - a huge difference. Moreover, it would have been difficult to simply fire an official of his rank, as the interior ministry explained yesterday. And had Merkel done this she would only have fuelled his reputation as a martyr, one might add. A role for which the AfD has been priming him since the outbreak of the scandal over his interpretation of the facts of Chemnitz.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

No end to the quarreling in sight

The Süddeutsche Zeitung sees no reason for the grand coalition to be relieved now:

“[Interior Minister] Horst Seehofer, who had promised to be loyal to his agency head, may have given in, but he no doubt did this mostly at the behest of his campaigning party colleagues. More rows in Berlin, or even a break in the coalition government, would not be tolerated in Bavaria. So an end to the quarrelling with the chancellor is not in sight. Seehofer is fighting, also with his own party, which is reluctant to position itself against Merkel. Many officials here still feel bound to the more reserved style of Seehofer's predecessor Thomas de Maizière. With Hans-Georg Maaßen as state secretary this could change. The trial of strength has only just begun.”

Die Presse (AT) /

How to recruit new voters for the AfD

The daily Die Presse sees this solution to the Maaßen affair as deeply cynical:

“Seeking to give itself a new profile, the SPD urgently needed a symbolic success for its notoriously unhappy voter base. The embattled CSU chief Horst Seehofer needed to avoid a major humiliation ahead of the state elections in Bavaria - and Merkel needed to keep her government together. A move which sees Maaßen promoted to a new, better paid job is now supposed to keep everyone happy. ... It is extremely cynical. This will drive even more voters towards the AfD.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Berlin sidelining an awkward figure

Maaßen's removal is the result of a campaign, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung criticises:

“The man made an unfortunate statement in a very turbulent situation. That's all. All those who claim to have been acting in the interest of the nation's security by clamouring for his resignation are wrong. Maaßen had built up an excellent reputation for himself in security circles since he first took office. ... Hans-Georg Maaßen was one of the first to warn Germany's politicians of the consequences of uncontrolled mass immigration. He still deserves credit for that, even if no one wanted to listen to him, especially not the chancellor.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Grand coalition not in good shape

The Maaßen affair exposes the weaknesses in Merkel's coalition, Der Standard explains:

“One wonders how the CDU/CSU is supposed to ever produce anything constructive that it can then implement together with its coalition partner the SPD. Because unlike during the row over sending refugees back at the border, when the Social Democrats simply stood by and watched, this time they are getting very involved. Maaßen must go, they are forcefully demanding. Although its stance is understandable it's obvious that the SPD is enjoying tormenting the chancellor. Because Merkel is of course in a very awkward situation: every attack against Maaßen is an attack against Seehofer. And the SPD knows this.”

PestiSrácok (HU) /

Merkel in a tight spot

The German chancellor is unable to get her problems at home under control, the national conservative website PestiSrácok observes:

“The SPD wants the president of the German domestic intelligence service to be removed from office after he openly questioned whether foreigners were really hunted down after the demonstrations in Chemnitz, fuelling the anti-fascist mood. The interior minister designated by the Bavarian CSU is backing Maaßen. ... So Europe's big boss must first appease her allies at home.”