Cablegate: Baden-Wuerttemberg Fdp Head / Minister Doering

Published: Mon 28 Jun 2004 09:29 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Baden-Wuerttemberg FDP Head / Minister Doering
Resigns Amid Scandal
Sensitive but unclassified; not for internet distribution.
1. (U) SUMMARY: On June 18, Baden-Wuerttemberg (B-W)
Economics Minister and Deputy Minister President Walter
Doering (FDP - Free Democrats) resigned from his positions
as economic minister, FDP state chairman and deputy chairman
of the national FDP, keeping only his elected mandate in the
B-W State Parliament. Doering's resignation in the wake of
the Flow-Tex corruption scandal has thrown the state party
into chaos. B-W Liberals selected Bundestag member Birgit
Homburger to replace Doering as state chairperson and FDP
state caucus chief Ernst Pfister as B-W economics minister.
The affair is likely to strengthen the CDU's hold on power
in Baden-Wuerttemberg. END SUMMARY.
2. (U) Doering's resignation came after weeks of
revelations concerning his alleged involvement with the Flow-
Tex company, which was convicted of fraud in Germany's
largest white-collar scandal in recent decades.
Contradictory statements by Doering and his staff about Flow-
Tex's funding of a 1999 poll commissioned by Doering gave
the impression that the minister had misrepresented his
dealings with Flow-Tex. The Stuttgart prosecutor's office
searched Doering's office and the office of former personal
aide Margot Haussmann, announcing that expanded
investigations against Doering for accepting political
favors and giving false testimony, prompting Doering to
resign (effective July 1).
3. (U) The burgeoning scandal and Doering's surprise
resignation threw the B-W FDP into turmoil. The favored
candidate, Bundestag member and FDP labor-policy
spokesperson Dirk Niebel, turned down the opportunity to
succeed Doering, citing national-level ambitions in Berlin.
After a marathon weekend meeting, the B-W FDP executive
committee presented Bundestag member Birgit Homburger as the
new state party leader (to be confirmed at a special FDP
convention on July 17). Doering's successor as economics
minister and deputy minister-president will be FDP caucus
leader Ernst Pfister (deputy FDP state chairman Michael
Theurer challenged Pfister's nomination but lost the
divisive battle).
4. (SBU) Political insiders express concern over
Homburger's ability to lead the state FDP from Berlin and
Pfister's potential as economics minister and deputy
minister-president. Most observers view Pfister -- a
teacher by training (like Doering) with scant business
experience -- as an affable but uncharismatic figure and ill-
prepared for a leadership role.
5. (SBU) Doering's resignation will strengthen Christian
Democrats in the CDU-FDP coalition and may lead Minister-
President Teufel (CDU) to reshuffle the state cabinet. With
Doering's fall, the CDU has an even better chance to gain an
absolute majority in 2006 state elections. Over the years,
Doering had reduced the B-W FDP to a one-man show, leaving
little room for up-and-comers in the party's ranks. The
Flow-Tex scandal and the FDP's inability to find strong new
leadership mean that the party is likely to lose visibility
and support in Baden-Wuerttemberg, a traditional stronghold.
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