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German minister resigns over controversial holiday after deadly floods

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By Euronews  with AP
Anne Spiegel has described her four-week family leave following last summer's floods as a mistake.
Anne Spiegel has described her four-week family leave following last summer's floods as a mistake.   -   Copyright  Annette Riedl/dpa via AP

A German Cabinet minister has resigned after it emerged that she went on a long holiday shortly after last year's devastating floods.

Anne Spiegel quit her post as Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth on Monday.

She became the first member of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition government to step down, citing "political pressure" over her vacation.

Spiegel had previously served as environment minister and deputy governor of Rhineland-Palatinate -- the German region worst hit by floods in July.

Across the country, more than 180 were killed in the flooding -- including 134 people in Rhineland-Palatinate’s Ahr valley.

Chancellor Scholz said he had "great respect" for her decision and wished Spiegel the best for the future.

On Sunday, the state government confirmed media reports that Spiegel had gone on a four-week family vacation in France, just 10 days after the floods.

Regional officials insisted that she had been reachable throughout her holiday, but the media reports led to calls for her resignation.

In a hastily arranged appearance on Sunday evening, Spiegel offered an apology amid widespread criticism.

“It was a mistake that we went on vacation for so long and that we went on vacation, and I apologise for this mistake,” she said.

The 41-year-old Green party minister added that her children had not coped well during the COVID-19 pandemic and that her husband needed to avoid stress after suffering a stroke.

In a further statement on Monday, Spiegel confirmed she had resigned "to protect my office, which faces big political challenges".

Party co-leader Omid Nouripour said her resignation was “right ... as difficult as this decision was".

Last week, the environment minister of another German state -- North Rhine-Westphalia -- resigned after it emerged that she only briefly interrupted a holiday on the Spanish island of Mallorca when the floods hit.