More Than 8,000 Cultural Figures Demand the Resignation of Germany’s Interior Minister Over His Anti-Immigration Comments

With thousands of signatories, a petition lambasts the minister's "outrageous" stance on immigration and calls him unfit for office.

Horst Seehofer. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Thousands of cultural figures in Germany have signed a petition demanding the resignation of the conservative interior minister Horst Seehofer over his hardline stance on immigration.

Seehofer is head of the Christian Social Union (CSU), a regional Bavarian party and a traditional ally of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU). His party is a crucial part of Merkel’s fragile governing coalition.

The politician has made a number of controversial comments in recent weeks, aimed mostly at immigrants. In one instance, he responded to a violent far-right march in the East-German town of Chemnitz in September by labeling immigration as “the mother of all political problems,” and adding that he too would have participated in the protest had he not been in office.

The authors of the petition—writer Jan Böttcher, director Matthias Luthardt, artist Rebecca Rause, writer Moritz Rinke, and writer and director Mathias Schönsee—call Seehofer unfit for office and condemn his stance as “outrageous” and “provocative, backward, and undignified towards humans.” The signatories also accuse the interior minister of sabotaging “the working capacity of the federal government and damaging the international perception of the country.”

“We no longer recognize that Horst Seehofer is aware of his political responsibility to the Federal Republic of Germany,” they write, adding that Seehofer’s statements “decisively contributed to the deterioration of the political debate allowing the far-right party AfD “to perpetuate its right-wing populist rhetoric of derailment.”

After suffering a stinging defeat in regional elections last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Monday that she would resign as chair of her CDU party and said she would not seek reelection in 2021. Her loosening grip on power is widely regarded as a result of a backlash against her decision to allow over one million asylum seekers to enter Germany at the height of the European refugee crisis in 2015.

At the time of publication, almost 8,700 German cultural figures signed the petition, including artists such as Monica Bonvicini, Manfred Pernice, Rosemarie Trockel, dealers Barbara Thumm, Nicole Hackert, Max Mayer, Tobias Naehring, and curators Nicolaus Schafhausen, Bettina Steinbrügge, Stefan Kalmár, and Janneke de Vries.


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