German Chancellor Olaf Scholz may resign, current defense minister rumored to be potential replacement

EMBARGO - UNTIL DEC. 31, 2023 00:00 A.M. CET - FREE FOR SUNDAY DEC. 31, 2023 NEWSPAPERS - German Chancellor Olaf Scholz poses for photographs during the recording of his New Year's speech at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Dec. 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, Pool)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz may leave his post prematurely, according to press reports. The German politician may be forced to take this step due to his abysmal poll ratings along with growing pressure behind the scenes over his role in a major corruption scandal dating back to his time as federal finance minister.

The Scholz government is currently immersed in chaos, and as a result, public opinion polls are devastating for the leadership in Berlin. Three-quarters of Germans are dissatisfied with the chancellor’s work, which is the worst result ever. Polling shows Germans want early elections and for the Scholz government to be replaced.

“In 2024, the chancellor may be forced to step down from leading the country. According to rumors, the Wirecard case and the relationship with Jan Marsalek could be the final blow to the leader of the Social Democrats,” Italian paper Le Reppublica writes.

According to press reports, the main reason for Scholz’s departure may be the scandal years ago, when he was still a minister. At the time, Wirecard was accused of fraud after auditors found a €1.9 billion shortfall at the company. However, Scholz and his ministry tried to protect the company from the attack, which caused resentment and suspicion, reports the Serbian daily Novosti.

Scholz has always denied responsibility for the scandal, but the public remains skeptical about this role. The German Finance Ministry has refused to release records regarding Scholz’s contact with financial lobbyists during his tenure as federal finance minister.

One of Wirecard’s executives, Austrian Jan Marsalek, fled after the scandal broke. German media say he could be in Russia or Belarus. The Austrian embassy in Moscow told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti that it had no information about the whereabouts of the former CEO.

Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for the Russian president, said that the Kremlin knows nothing about Marsalek. In the latest German government crisis, it is not known what chance Boris Pistorius has of becoming chancellor, however, the German press notes that Pistorius has been the most popular German politician for months, based on various polls. As a result, he is rumored to be the most likely successor for Scholz should the current chancellor resign.

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