On Monday, Germany's Minister of Defense Christine Lambrecht resigned from office. She was facing growing pressure after she posted a New Year's speech in which she referred to the Russia-Ukraine conflict in a manner that was perceived as inappropriate.
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In the video posted on Instagram, Lambrecht summed up the year 2022 against the backdrop of loud fireworks in a Berlin street and said, in the context of the ongoing conflict, that she was able to gain "a lot of special impressions" through "many, many meetings with interesting, great people."
Criticism mostly came from the conservative opposition parties, but also from within the government. The chairwoman of the Bundestag's Defense Committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann of the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), described the setting of the video as "somewhat unfortunate."
Lambrecht had already drawn public criticism in early 2022 by taking her 21-year-old son on a flight in a government helicopter to visit troops. The flight had become public because her son had posted a photo of himself in the helicopter on Instagram. For months, Lambrecht had refused to disclose any details about the matter, which only intensified the criticism.
In recent months, she has fallen steadily in the polls and was even listed as Germany's most unpopular top politician. "Her reputation seems irreparable," the head of the INSA polling institute, Hermann Binkert, told the Bild newspaper last week.
Germany's next defense minister has not officially been named yet. The refilling of the post could lead to a major reshuffle in the German government in order to maintain the gender balance that Chancellor Olaf Scholz has promised to uphold.
Lambrecht's successor will have to rehabilitate an aging army that has undergone decades of austerity measures. According to Bundestag Defense Commissioner Eva Hoegl, it could take three times the 100 billion euros in special defense funds approved last year to correct the deficiencies.