Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Merkel, Kohl and Rajoy.

A political funding scandal in Germany started in November, 1999, when the district court of Augsburg ordered the arrest of former CDU (conservative, centre-right) treasurer Walter Leisler Kiep in connection with alleged dealings with lobbyist, fundraiser, arms dealer and businessman Karlheinz Schreiber, fugitive at the time.

Kiep admitted to receiving an illegal donation in 1991 on behalf of the CDU, headed at the time by former chancellor Helmut Kohl.

Helmut Kohl. [A]

Kohl denied any knowledge; while his protégé, Angela Merkel ("mein Mädchen", "my girl", Kohl affectionately called her) demanded a quick and sweeping investigation.

The investigations, conducted with typical Germanic efficiency, were quick indeed. Kiep and other CDU leaders would regularly disclose information detailing Kohl's involvement.

Sometimes, by himself, sometimes with Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU chairman) another of his protégés, Kohl would initially deny the information, just to recant a few days later.

December 22, 1999: Merkel wrote in the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung: "Kohl has harmed the party". After asking the CDU to distance itself from Kohl, Kohl's former girl writes: "The party must therefore learn to walk by itself, confidently, to continue without its old warhorse, as Helmut Kohl has frequently called himself". (See here in German, my translation)

The ties with the "old warhorse" severed, Schäuble was left holding loose reins, only.

February 16, 2000: Schäuble resigns as CDU chair and parliamentary leader. A few weeks later, as a reward for her moral fortitude and leadership, Merkel went on to replace Schäuble as CDU chair.

Wolfgang Schäuble, left; Angela Merkel, right. [B][C]

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February 4, 2013: German bankers' money at stake, chancellor Merkel provides her moral support to Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy, who has been accused of corruption in his own country in a modern day public financing scandal reminiscent of the old German scandal:
"Germany had 'great respect and great admiration' for Madrid's economic reforms, Merkel said. Strict austerity measures and the nationalizations of several of Spain's largest banks had helped put the debt-stricken country back on track. These steps would have a positive effect on Spain's future, she added.
" 'We have a trustworthy relationship', Merkel said, pledging further support to the eurozone partner". (See here)
No calls for quick and sweeping investigations. No severing ties with "old warhorses".

Image Credits:
[A] Helmut Kohl. Public domain image. Wikipedia.
[B] Wolfgang Schäuble. Public domain image. Wikipedia.
[C] Angela Merkel. File licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany licence. Wikipedia. Author: Armin Linnartz. My use of the file does not in any way suggests its author endorses me or my use of the work.

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