Germany's Merkel scrambles to heal coalition rift
Feb. 18, 2014
BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scrambling to heal a rift in her new coalition government caused by the fallout from a child pornography investigation.
Merkel's right-left coalition has been buffeted by mistrust since the resignation last Friday of Cabinet minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, a member of her conservative bloc.
Merkel planned a meeting Tuesday with the leaders of the other two other coalition parties in an effort to smooth over tensions.
Friedrich quit after it was revealed that he had informed the head of the Social Democrats, Merkel's new coalition partner, that the name of one of the center-left party's lawmakers had come up in an investigation. At the time, last October, the two were in talks on forming the new coalition.
The lawmaker, Sebastian Edathy, resigned his seat earlier this month, days before police searched his home and offices. The case centers on alleged ordering of pictures of underage boys that prosecutors say are on the threshold of what legally constitutes child porn.
Edathy denies ordering or possessing child porn.
All concerned deny having tipped off Edathy or anyone close to him.
Friedrich denies having improperly passed on confidential information but resigned saying he no longer had "political support."
The resignation prompted his party — the Christian Social Union, Merkel's Bavaria-only allies — to complain bitterly about the Social Democrats' handling of the affair.
"We know that the coalition can only do its work — and we have a clear mandate from the German people — if we trust each other," Merkel said Tuesday. "So, where questions have arisen, we will put that on the table. I am very optimistic that we will succeed."