Sunday, June 13

German Greens vote to oust city mayor for racial slurs online | Germany


Germany’s high-flying Green Party leadership faces the first test of its authority ahead of the September national elections, after a prominent Green mayor posted a racial slur about a German national footballer on social media.

Regional party leaders voted over the weekend to oust Boris Palmer, the provocative mayor of Tübingen, via a Facebook post in which he referred to former German international Dennis Aogo as a “terrible racist”, referring to an unfounded anecdote on social media. Media that the footballer, of a Nigerian father and a German mother, had once bragged about the size of his penis, using the n word.

Palmer, who has been mayor of the southern university city since 2007, said he had made his comment in the context of a debate on the expulsion of footballers from public life because of their choice of language: “I exaggerated an absurd accusation of racism. to such a grotesque extent that it was meant to make it clear how out of place it is. “

Former pro-turned-expert Aogo recently posted a WhatsApp message on his Instagram account in which former Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann called him a “symbolic black boy”, prompting Lehmann’s dismissal from the supervisory board of Hertha Berlin. . Days later, Aogo himself apologized for a verbal slip on a Sky Sports broadcast, having described a team “training until they are gassed.”

Questions have been raised as to why a civil servant with a prominent position in the German media would influence a social media storm uninvited, just as his party has taken the lead in national polls over the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU). by Angela Merkel.

The n-word boast that Palmer referred to was relayed as an unverified anecdote by a user whose account has since been deleted.

“It is unworthy for a mayor to be permanently polarized with provocations,” said Winfried Kretschmann, the green prime minister of the southwestern German state where Tübingen is located.

Annalena Baerbock, Green Party candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as Chancellor.
Annalena Baerbock, Green Party candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as Chancellor. Photograph: John MacDougall / AFP / Getty Images

Annalena Baerbock, the green co-leader who has a chance to succeed Merkel after the September 26 elections, voiced her support for the move to exclude Palmer from her party.

“Boris Palmer’s comments are racist and repulsive,” Baerbock posted on Twitter. He also rejected Palmer’s claim that he was being ironic and said he had lost the party’s backing. “This is in addition to the repeated provocations that exclude and hurt people,” he said.

The Baden-Württemberg Greens have distanced themselves from Palmer in the past, failing to vote to revoke his membership. In a social media post in April 2019, Palmer criticized German rail provider Die Bahn for depicting non-white people in an ad on its website.

The process of removing Palmer from the Green Party could take between three and six months, and could allow him one more platform during an election campaign that so far has seen the environmental party display uncharacteristic unity.

“The Palmer case could torpedo a very smooth electoral path,” wrote Der Spiegel.

However, the Greens are not the only party under pressure to contain rogue members. Its main rival for the top seat in German politics, the CDU, is under fire after its Thuringian branch backed the controversial Hans-Georg Maassen to run in this year’s parliamentary elections.

Maassen, the former head of Germany’s national intelligence agency, was fired from his job in 2018 after questioning the authenticity of a video showing right-wing protesters chasing a man through the streets of Chemnitz. Since then, he has become a prominent participant in right-wing conspiracy theories on social media.

The Social Democratic Party (SPD), the junior partner in the current coalition government, took more than 10 years to oust Thilo Sarrazin, a former Berlin senator who published several books that deviated from the political positions of the center-left party.


www.theguardian.com

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