How good is AKK as defence minister?
The CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (AKK) has been sworn in as the new German defence minister. She takes over from the designated EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The opposition criticises AKK's nomination because up to now she had publicly ruled out cabinet changes. Commentators discuss whether she is the right woman for the job.
A disastrous signal
The daily paper Bild criticises Kramp-Karrenbauer's change of heart:
“When she was running for the post of CDU leader she said about the party leadership: 'One should never convey the impression that one might be using such a post as a springboard for the next public office. That would be fatal.' Now Kramp-Karrenbauer has done precisely that, sending a disastrous signal: because she is unhappy with her current approval ratings as party leader and because she so fears her successful rival Jens Spahn, it seems, she now prefers to become defence minister. The Bundeswehr, with its 180,000 soldiers and many problems, is to be led by a woman who has always stressed that the job of CDU leader is her top priority.”
She can only make things better
The new defence minister Kramp-Karrenbauer will not repeat the mistakes of her predecessor Ursula von der Leyen, notes the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:
“When Kramp-Karrenbauer's predecessor accused the troop of having 'an attitude problem' her reputation with many soldiers was ruined - not because worrying far-right incidents had not yet occurred, but because she openly criticised the attitude of the entire Bundeswehr. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer demonstrated in her first short speech on Wednesday that she is aware of this danger. She talked almost exclusively about the soldiers, whose well-being, she said, was her top priority. 'In this moment, in this hour, my thoughts are particularly with those men and women who are on duty,' she said. If the minister is able to heed these words over the next weeks, she will not run into many difficulties.”
First major test for chancellor-in-waiting
The position of defence minister will be the first big test for the designated Merkel successor, notes Večernji list:
“The German public has high expectations for Kramp-Karrenbauer: primarily that she is ready to take over as chancellor when Merkel retires, which will be 2021 at the latest. ... The Ministry of Defence is a difficult post and the German public will be watching Kramp-Karrenbauer like a hawk to see how she fares as defence minister. The German army is always struggling with an inadequate budget, which why the work of her predecessor von der Leyen came under such criticism. Kramp-Karrenbauer has certainly been handed a hot potato.”