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Germany: President Wulff at bay

March 18 category:Europe
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Germany: President Wulff at bay

January 4, 2012, Berlin, Germany --- German President Wulff sits in His because After His television interview in Berlin, Germany, 04 January 2012. Wulff is coming under pressure due to the Increasing credit scandal and his handling of the media, he aims won't resign. Photo: MAURIZIO GAMBARINI --- Image by © Maurizio Gambarini / dpa / Corbis

Mr Gambarini / dpa / Corbis

The relationship between politicians and journalists in Germany, often fall under tough love, where favorites announce claw hammer. Christian Wulff should beware ... In July 2010, when the parliamentarians elected to the Presidency of the Republic, popular newspapers applaud. Smiling and in love, it fifties and his new wife, Bettina, a big beautiful blonde, fourteen years his junior, bring a touch of glamor to the national political scene, dominated by the austere Angela Merkel.

Eighteen months later, here it is entangled in several cases of conflict of interest. The Harder They Fall? For much of the press, the debate is already closed: Wulff is no longer worthy to exercise its mandate. The head of the German state has only a ceremonial function, but his eventual resignation would weaken the coalition led by the Chancellor.

Tunes ideal son

The drama began on December 20, 2009. While Minister-President of Lower Saxony, Wulff takes his family to spend Christmas with sweet sunny Florida, with his old friend Egon Geerkens - an entrepreneur in his area who made his fortune in jewelry, real estate, old cars and antiques. On the plane to Miami, Wulff took their seats in business class, whereas they have paid economy class tickets: the owner of the airline Air Berlin has kindly offered this upgrade, a gift of 3,000 euros. When the story is revealed, Christian Wulff apologized and quick to settle the bill. In Hanover, we do not mess with the political ethics: the law prohibits members of the local government to accept any gift with a value of 10 euros. A few months later, forced to explain Wulff made clear before his Parliament that over the last ten years he has not had any business relationship or with Egon Geerkens nor with the CEO of the airline. End of the first act.

In May 2010, to replace emergency Horst Köhler, who had to step down, Merkel imposes the fifties Catholic to the Presidency of the Republic. In this role, he has little political power, he must represent his country and plays a role of moral authority. With tunes ideal son, Wulff seems built for the job.

But the second act of the drama opens on 13 December 2011, the Bild Zeitung of A, one of the most influential newspapers in Europe, with its 12 million daily readers. The investigation revealed that Wulff lied to his Parliament: it failed to mention a loan of 500 000 euros, 4% interest, acquired in 2008 with the wife of his friend Egon. At Bellevue Palace, the official residence in Berlin, the spokesman denies any accusation of lying: President replied correctly to the question posed by the Greens of Lower Saxony, which concerned Egon Geerkens, not its woman ...

"He has not lied but he did not tell the truth," quips the chorus of journalists. Returned from a trip to Kuwait, the person apologizes and promises full transparency. In the process, he published a list of the many holiday trips he spent among wealthy friends in recent years, and said that everything had to be paid his pocket has indeed been, Credit and including interest.

Final twist, before the break of the holiday season: it turns out that Wulff took out a new loan with a bank - to pay off the previous one, become compromised - an unbeatable rates. Or the bank in question - its parent company, to be precise - was saved from bankruptcy a few years earlier by the same Christian Wulff, when he was head of Lower Saxony, with the plan Porsche takeover by Volkswagen, which he had contributed. Will he got gift exchange? Mystery.

In the third act, the plot turns tragicomedy and the public discovers another character behind the image policed ​​up the tedium of this politician seemingly stories. The 1 and 2 January, the press revealed that the "nice president," as it was called, had sought to join the managing editor of Bild, December 12, the day before the publication of the first article implicating him . Unable to talk to him directly, he left an angry message four minutes on his voicemail, promises war, prosecution and the final break with all the Springer Group, which owns the newspaper. Despite his protests, he's accused of attempted censorship.

Especially that this is not his first stunt: last summer, already the head of state invited to his residence a reporter for Welt am Sonntag weekly to " discuss "an article on his half-sister ... The scandal enriched every day with new elements, the" hero "tries a last resort: an interview on television. He got carried away, he says, visibly tired by the "hard" against his private life. "You can not imagine all the fantasies circulating on the Internet and on my wife!" loose there also, referring to persistent rumors on the Internet (and never confirmed) over the past escort-girl of the beautiful Bettina, always popular with the tabloids, including his tattoo on his right shoulder. ..

Real crisis when or storm in a glass of beer? "In France, the scope of the president is purely political, the liberal MP Erwin Lotter (FDP), the first right to have publicly demanded the resignation of Christian Wulff. But here, the President of the Republic has a duty be exemplary. His weapon is the word. How could he be credible now if he had a speech defending the freedom of the press in Hungary, or criticizing the greed of the financial markets? "

Around Angela Merkel, the ranks of the Christian Democrats of the CDU, which Wulff is derived, the nods dismayed behind the scenes in the first weeks of the scandal, have given way to speculation about a possible replacement. There are voices to demand the departure of the man who had once donned a time the role of the "dauphin" of the Chancellor. It continues to support it. Can it do otherwise? It is she who has imposed.

And a new election, even at this honorary position, would be an additional test for its authority, because it is not safe to get a solid majority in favor of another personality. Merkel has even less interest in rushing deadlines that resignations in the conservative camp already saw the comic repetition. After the start, last spring, the high-profile defense minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, accused of plagiarism in his doctoral thesis, another defection would wrong kind.

Pending the outcome, the German vocabulary has been enriched by a new word. After the verb "guttenbergen" (copy and paste) the term "Wulffen" just appeared. It means file a furious message and ending on a mailbox.

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