Traffic light coalition: dispute over RKI boss Wieler

Status: 05.02.2022 5:42 p.m

The FPD doubts Wieler’s competence – the Greens and SPD have his back. A dispute has broken out in the traffic light coalition about the future of the RKI President. But it’s actually about the entire Corona course.

The traffic light coalition is arguing about the future of RKI boss Lothar Wieler. The designated FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai sharply criticized the President of the Robert Koch Institute in a “Spiegel” interview and indicated a replacement. It says he has respect for Wieler’s performance over the past two years, but he can no longer be sure of the FPD’s trust due to the recent misconduct.

The background is the recovery period reduced by the RKI. With effect from January 15, the RKI had surprisingly shortened the recovered status from six to three months. Among other things, it was criticized that this change had not been previously announced by the RKI. Many citizens would have lost their right to go to restaurants, bars or gyms almost overnight.

FDP parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr then demanded that parliament should decide on the recovered status again in the future. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) had spoken of communication problems with the RKI. Djir-Sarai criticized that the RKI had reduced the period “almost incidentally with the stroke of a pen and without any announcement”.

Greens and SPD are behind Wieler

Wieler is now receiving support from the ranks of the Greens. The RKI President did an incredible amount during the pandemic, wrote Bundestag Vice President Katrin Göring-Eckardt on Twitter. “His expertise, professionalism and steadfastness in the face of attacks from enemies of science deserve respect.”

The Green health expert Janosch Dahmen made a similar statement. “His expertise is invaluable. Without him we would be in a much worse position today,” he also wrote on Twitter. Addressing the FDP, Dahmen wrote: “Anyone who wants to govern a country responsibly should deal responsibly with their own executive. Publicly ‘counting’ people is not only irresponsible, but that’s just not how you treat each other!”

Chancellor Olaf Scholz also supported the virologists in the dispute. When asked whether Wieler still enjoyed the chancellor’s trust, a government spokeswoman said on Saturday: “Yes.”

Traffic light disagreed on Corona course

The background to the dispute is a deeper conflict in the coalition over the Corona course. There is a dispute between the SPD, FDP and Greens as to when there should be opening steps. FDP leader Christian Lindner had called for easing this week, such as the abolition of the 2G rule in retail. Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit had said in view of the sharp increase in the number of new corona infections that it was too early to present a timetable for openings. Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) made a similar statement on Friday.

RKI President Wieler advocates a tougher course in the fight against the pandemic. According to model calculations, the RKI expects the omicron wave to peak in mid-February. Then the number of daily new corona infections could be at least 400,000. The number of corona patients in hospitals is also expected to increase. However, the number of very severe illnesses in omicron-infected people has not increased so far.

Corona: tugging at RKI boss Lothar Wieler in the traffic light coalition

Kai Clement, ARD Berlin, 5.2.2022 · 17:44

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