The German Secretary of State for Energy resigns due to nepotism

Patrick Graichen

The accusations of nepotism in the German Economy Ministry have their first consequence this morning: Patrick Graichen resigns as Secretary of State for Energy, despite the fact that only a few days ago he received the personal support of the Green Minister Robert Habeck had supported him. To the accusations of having handpicked friends and relatives to key positions in the German energy transition, all of them belonging to circles called the “green lobby” and among which the appointment of his own godfather Michael Schäfer as managing director of the state-owned German Energy Agency, this week new inconsistencies had arisen in relation to the invitation to tender expert opinions.

Minister Habeck’s last reaction had been to limit himself to speaking of an “error” that would be corrected, to acknowledge that he maintains a “special friendly relationship” with Graichen and that he had made the decision for him to stay in the Ministry. But the truth is that his attitude was taking a heavy toll on him in the polls. In the latest INSA opinion poll, he was already down to 17th place among the most popular politicians in Germany, behind even party colleagues such as Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

Particularly violent for the minister was ranking in popularity with the heads of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla, and with the far-left Die Linke chairwoman, Janine Wissler. Before the scandal broke, Habeck held the position of Germany’s most esteemed politician, which he has now ceded to Defense Minister Boris Pistorius. With Graichen’s resignation, Habeck hopes to regain credibility.

In addition to the ‘Godfather case’, as Schäfer’s handpicked appointment has been dubbed by the German press, Graichen, is the brother of the wife of another Secretary of State from the same Ministry, the also green Michael Kellner. In turn, the sister in question, Verena Graichen, and a third child from the same family, Jakob, work for the Öko-Institut, a research and consulting institute focused on climate issues that since 2019 has received reporting commissions from of the Ministry of Economics for a value of 13 million euros. These are the experts and public officials who are preparing the legislative changes and the planned ban on gas and oil heating, which is going to cause extreme costs for both the state and German individuals.