Dusseldorf – A good five weeks before the state elections, North Rhine-Westphalia’s Environment Minister Ursula Heinen-Esser (CDU) is resigning. The politician said on Thursday evening that she had offered Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) her resignation – and he had accepted it. The politician had come under increasing pressure because of a stay in Mallorca during the flood disaster in July 2021.
While people in NRW were trying to cope with the flood disaster, NRW Environment Minister Ursula Heinen-Esser (56, CDU) celebrated her husband’s birthday together with cabinet colleagues in Mallorca.
The participants in the “dinner” on July 23 included Building Minister Ina Scharrenbach (CDU), Europe Minister Stephan Holthoff-Pförtner (CDU) and the then State Secretary Serap Güler (CDU). Heinen-Esser had confirmed a corresponding report by the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger”.
Heinen-Esser had confirmed the celebration, but had emphasized the previous Thursday: “I firmly reject the accusation of having deceived Parliament.” She also carried out her official business “fully” in Mallorca. She has so far declined to resign.
In the early evening, Heinen-Esser said that she had looked at the reactions and found that she had not been able to convey her actions to the public last summer. There is no understanding for her actions at that time. With her resignation, she now wants to avert “damage to her family and the office”.
Literally, she said: “I regret the image that my own actions and subsequent representation have created. I accept that, I respect that, I understand that. This picture doesn’t reflect who I really am. But with this picture of me in public, the necessary trust in me as a minister is permanently called into question.”
SPD: Heinen-Esser’s resignation “was overdue”
The SPD and the Greens in the Düsseldorf state parliament unanimously described Heinen-Esser’s resignation as “overdue”. The SPD is now also suggesting that Minister of Construction Ina Scharrenbach (CDU) resign.
SPD faction leader Thomas Kutschaty said on Thursday evening: “Ursula Heinen-Esser’s resignation was overdue. Because her trip, including the birthday party on Mallorca, was instinctive and irreverent.”
Kutschaty now targeted Building Minister Ina Scharrenbach (CDU), who had celebrated her husband’s birthday with Heinen-Esser on Mallorca. One must ask whether Scharrenbach “still has the necessary integrity to remain in office. I don’t agree,” said Kuchaty. Scharrenbach is responsible for the fact that many people are still waiting for their money and flood aid. In the acute emergency, the island was more important to her than home.”
Green parliamentary group leader Verena Schäffer said: “Ms. Heinen-Esser’s resignation must not distract from the fact that Ms. Scharrenbach has to explain her short trip to Mallorca. Because with her, two important department heads were not on site in NRW during the flood disaster to carry out their official business.