Armin Laschet was sure of beautiful pictures when he traveled to Paris in the middle of the federal election campaign last September. First talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, then photo session and check handover. The CDU chancellor candidate had half a million euros in his luggage for the renovation of the burned-down Notre Dame Cathedral. That’s only enough to “restore some windows”, but it is an important symbol, said Laschet, who should no longer use the beautiful pictures from Paris.
An important symbol is probably also a very good description of the office in whose name Laschet traveled to France at the time. As the representative of the Federal Republic of Germany for cultural affairs within the framework of the treaty for Franco-German cooperation, Laschet represented the country for three years on all cultural and educational issues. Since January, his successor as Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia has inherited the office.
Politically, the post of Franco-German cultural officer is hardly relevant, but the office carries a portion of prestige. The previous authorized representatives include ex-Chancellor Kurt-Georg Kiesinger (CDU), Oskar Lafontaine, Klaus Wowereit and Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who held the office of mayor of Hamburg between 2015 and 2018. A few nice appointments in Paris are priced in, as well as two extra offices.
The post is now vacant as scheduled. The Prime Ministers, who distribute the office among themselves, have already spoken about it according to information from the Tagesspiegel, but there was a dispute. After the CDU Prime Ministers Wüst/Laschet, it would actually be the turn of the A side in the Bundesrat – i.e. the SPD – again. But now Baden-Württemberg’s Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann apparently also has francophile ambitions, as several sources confirmed to the Tagesspiegel.
The Green politician, who was only on the A side of the Bundesrat for five years and has been with the B states since 2016, is apparently claiming the office – with reference to the border region in the south-west. The Greens want to break up the perpetual alternation between the SPD and the Union.
One hears cautious approval for Kretschmann from CDU-led federal states. The 74-year-old is a deserving politician, and the A/B distribution is “a bit old school”, according to a state chancellery. In fact, the Greens now govern in ten states, with North Rhine-Westphalia could soon be the eleventh.
The farce paralyzes the work of the prime ministers. There must be unanimity for a decision, only then can the representative be officially named by the federal government. Dissatisfaction with Kretschmann can be heard from the SPD-led state chancellery. “Kindergarten” and “pathetic attempt” are words that come up. Kretschmann may have to continue to produce beautiful pictures in the Ländle.