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Thread: Another German President Going Down

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    Another German President Going Down

    After Germany's last Federal President Horst Köhler resigned after making certain unconstitutional comments about the role of Germany's military, his successor Christian Wulff is currently setting himself up for a similar resignation.

    Wulff's follies started when he was Minister-President of Lower Saxony - before being elected to his current post. Wulff took out a private interest-less loan from a friend to the tune of half a million Euro two years ago. As required for his post back then, he was asked to disclose any financial or similar relationships to private business at the time, and he lied about this particular loan. In addition the loan itself may have been illegal for him to take, since the zero interest conditions effectively amounted to a five-figure bribe.
    After being asked about it, he secretly refinanced that loan last month by switching over to a regular bank giving him rather favorable conditions, but the damage was already done.

    Last month, reporters unearthed the story, publicizing the story widely around the German press. German tabloid Bild owned by the conservative Axel Springer publishing house was in particular at the forefront of this press offensive.

    The real problem for Wulff started when Bild - being courtious to a fellow conservative - tried to have a particularly exposing article they were about to publish cleared by the president first. Wulff reacted to the article announcement with two calls: one to the author - Bild's chief editor Diekmann - telling him that if that if the article was published life would become rather uncomfortable for Diekmann; and a second one, afterwards, to Springer's CEO Mathias Döpfner, in which he threatened "war" between the Presidential Office and the publishing house for the rest of his term.

    Obviously can't have that:

    Protesters cry 'Wulff must go!' | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 07.01.2012
    [...] Protesters gathered outside the official residence of German President Christian Wulff on Saturday, shouting "Wulff must go!" and waving shoes above their heads in a sign of disrespect common in the Arabic world.
    Police said the demonstration, dubbed "Shoe for you, Mr President" - after the insult that gained international recognition three years ago when an Iraqi journalist threw his shoe at then US President George W. Bush - attracted about 450 people outside the Bellevue palace in Berlin. [...]
    I'm giving him one month. Tops.

    There are already discussion on who might succeed him. Names currently being called are former German and UN Environmental Minister/USG Klaus Töpfer and Norbert Lammert, the current Bundestag president and nominally Wulff's vice president.
    The government coalition only has a very slim majority of about 623 to 617 seats in the presidential electoral council right now, and therefore would be looking for a candidate explicitly acceptable for the opposition SPD. The SPD itself is looking at Joachim Gauck as a possible candidate.

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    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    For a ceremonial role the President has in Germany (and in many European countries), this looks like some sort of settling accounts between Axel Springer and Wulff or some internal struggle within CDU.

    To be clear on this, he was wrong and should go.

    Wonder if the Queen has the same limits
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

    To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doktor View Post
    this looks like some sort of settling accounts between Axel Springer and Wulff
    Sure. The problem is that he brought it on himself. You do not take on Springer and survive in office. Much like you do not take on Spiegel and survive in office. There's already some people here and there calling it the Springer Affair and comparing it to the 1962 Spiegel Affair. Wulff should've learned from FJS' fate back then.

    I like this picture from the protest btw:
    Attachment 27942
    Last edited by kato; 08 Jan 12, at 01:25.

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    Damn, and here I thought it was going to be a celebrity porn clip

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    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kato View Post
    Sure. The problem is that he brought it on himself. You do not take on Springer and survive in office. Much like you do not take on Spiegel and survive in office. There's already some people here and there calling it the Springer Affair and comparing it to the 1962 Spiegel Affair.
    Sure. That's how Spiegel got name
    I meant something else then the obvious (current) conflict between AS and Wulff.

    I like this picture from the protest btw:
    Attachment 27942
    Kabarett artist for president? Hmm...
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

    To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

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    Georg Schramm is more than a mere Kabarettist... he's pretty much the president of political satire in Germany.

    As for a wider conflict - nah. Bild is traditionally pro-Wulff. Maybe his wife's pregnant again and they aren't sharing or something like that.

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    SPD seems to be split over how to handle it right now, with the various factions within its leaderships going different ways: Sigmar Gabriel, the CEO of the SPD, wants to offer the CDU a grand coalition for finding a successor to Wulff, while Andrea Nahles, the general secretary, is calling for a Bundestag reelection if Wulff resigns.

    Wulff himself is encountering a slow broil of increasing resistance within his own party, with more and more CDU representatives no longer backing him.

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    I almost wish that the FDP will try to present a successor from their own ranks. It would be fun to watch.

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    The story broke during the holidays, since the news circle is going pretty slow at this time it kind of blew out of proportion.

    The worst thing is, the events that took place are not bad enough to force him out of office it is rather the way the president dealt with them.
    His calls and interviews since have been horrible and him being in a position with no power but moral standing and representing the country makes it even worse.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dirk90 View Post
    The worst thing is, the events that took place are not bad enough to force him out of office it is rather the way the president dealt with them.
    He can't be forced out of office anyway. In order for him to be forcibly removed, he'd have to be charged with violating a federal law or the Basic Law, and the parliament (or the Supreme Court) would still have to find a two-thirds majority against him.

    Btw, Spiegel Online International feature site about him with articles in English:
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/...ristian_wulff/

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    Press is currently digging one little irrelevant tidbit after another - and of course publishing it all:
    - Wulff got a hotel suite upgrade in 2008 paid for by some businessman
    - there's suspicion he might have used frequent-flier miles from his "business account" to upgrade private flights
    - apparently a few weeks ago his wife leased a car with *gasp* a 1.2% interest rate instead of the standard 1.5%.

    Today the president has finally released his answers to some 500 questions raised by journalists regarding past and current expenses etc. Filling 240 pages in German (small print), the whole thing is available here. Wulff's office tried to get around answering these for the past weeks, attempting multiple angles of evasion such as "we can't publish the questions since they are under the copyright of the journalists who asked them" (lol). About one third of the questions raised are from editors of various Springer press houses, such as Bild and Welt. The published documents still contain about 5% censored items.

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    In a separate corruption affair the offices and private home of former Wulff spokesman Glaeseker were searched this week. Glaeseker was sacked by Wulff in the middle of his own affair above in late December without publishing reasons for it.

    Glaeseker is suspected of taking out free stays at vacation homes of an event manager (Schmidt) in return for providing funds for a series of political events managed by Schmidt. Wulff's ex-wife is also suspected of having taken advantage in the same manner.

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    In an unprecedented move in the history of the Federal Republic parts of the Presidential Office were searched today. Agents combed through the former offices of Glaeseker there and confiscated files and computers.
    Last edited by kato; 30 Jan 12, at 06:12. Reason: typofix

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    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kato View Post
    In an unprecedented move in the history of the Federal Republic oarts of the Presidential Office were searched today. Agents combed through the former offices of Glaeseker there and confiscated files and computers.
    How do you search parts of the Office?

    Anyway, this is good move I guess, shows everyone is reachable.
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

    To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doktor View Post
    How do you search parts of the Office?
    The Presidential Office is an office complex next to the Presidential Residence (Schloss Bellevue). In the pic below the Residence is in front, the Office is the oval building in the background.

    Attachment 28279

    Police only searched Glaeseker's former offices within the office complex.

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