The environment minister of Germany's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) stepped down on Tuesday, citing safety concerns for herself and her family. Christine Schulze Föcking, 41, has received multiple threats due to allegations her family's industrial farm abuses animals.
"The aggressiveness of the attacks has put me in a constant state of fear – and not just me. The price of my political office is just too high for my family," said Schulze Föcking, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), who is married with two children.
NRW's state premier Armin Laschet, also a CDU member, accepted her resignation. Laschet said that he was completely shocked upon seeing screenshots of the threats from extreme environmental activists.
"I have never seen this kind of personal attack, which she has experienced in the past weeks, in my entire political life," said Laschet.
Schulze Föcking, whose portfolio includes agriculture, had been facing calls from the opposition Social Democrats (SPD) and Green parties to undergo a parliamentary inquiry over the goings-on at her hog farm after video footage of pigs being injured, purportedly at her family's farm, surfaced online last year.
The minister's resignation presents a fresh problem for the CDU-Free Democrats (FDP) coalition. In last year's regional election, the CDU narrowly won control of the left-leaning state that's a traditional stronghold of the Social Democrats, but has become more hotly contested over the past decade.
es/msh (AFP, dpa)