Merkel Loses Families Minister After Plagiarism Allegations

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s families minister stepped down amid allegations she plagiarized parts of her doctoral dissertation, disrupting the government’s makeup just four months before national elections.

At a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Franziska Giffey offered her resignation while Berlin’s Free University again evaluates her research. The 43-year-old said she plans to remain the Social Democrat lead candidate in Berlin and will focus on her campaign to become the capital’s mayor.

“I still stand by my statement that I conducted my work to the best of my knowledge and belief,” she said in an emailed statement. “I have accepted the consequences of this ongoing and stressful process.”

The SPD doesn’t plan to name a replacement before the elections, with Giffey’s duties to be carried out by Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported, citing unidentified government officials.

Ahead of national and local Berlin elections on Sept. 26, the SPD is struggling in the polls. In the capital, support for the party is at 20%, behind the Greens on 25%, according to a poll by Insa. Nationwide, the Social Democrats are in third place behind the Greens and Merkel’s conservative bloc, who are in a tight race for first place.

“I accept this decision with great respect, but also with just as great regret,” Merkel said. “I worked very well and trustingly with Franziska Giffey over the past few years, and I thank her sincerely for this.”

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