Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pay-to-play government, German style (Angie the Great style)

Angela the Great, aka, German Chancellor Angela "Frau Fritz" Merkel, is improving the efficiency of public-private cooperation in the best spirit of neoliberalism.

Monday of last week, Frau Fritz successfully got stricter EU carbon-dioxide emissions standards adjusted in favor of the demands of the German auto lobbies. (Sieg der Autolobby: Bundesregierung verhindert strengere Abgasnormen Spiegel Online 14.10.2013)

On Wednesday, her CDU party got contributions of €690,000 (roughly $938,000) from three members of the Quandt family, the three of them together owning 47% of BMW stock. (CSU erhält Spende von bayerischer Industrie Frankfurter Rundschau 17.10.2013)

Just a happy coincidence for Angie and her CDU, I'm sure. No pay-to-play going on here! No quid pro quo or that kind of stuff!

As Gregor Peter Schmitz explains in Merkel und die BMW-Großspende: Gift fürs Klima Spiegel Online 16.10.2013, Merkel's intervention - selfless and with only the public interest in mind, no doubt - goes against the united front that the EU has previously been able to present to the world on environmental issues.

But then, we know how much concern for the EU that Frau Fritz has been showing.

This 10/10/2013 cartoon by Yannis Ioannou shows Frau Fritz and her soon-to-be coalition partner Sigmar Gabriel of the SPD on the EU ship sailing away from the sinking wreck of Greece and its drowning, desperate passengers:

Schmitz says of the embarrassment that Frau Fritz incurred by this auto-lobby service and the CDU's donation - that of course had nothing to do with Angie's position on the emissions standards, "Der drohende deutsche Glaubwürdigkeitsverlust ist fatal in Zeiten, da Deutschland gern als Zuchtmeister der Euro-Krisenstaaten auftritt." ("The threatened loss of German credibility is fatal in times in which Germany would like to appear as the disciplinarian of the euro crisis states.")

One of the features of Frau Fritz' crisis management has been to encourage the petty nationalism popularly directed at the crisis nations: lazy Greeks, corrupt Italians, reckless Spaniards, etc. Schmitz writes sarcastically, "Natürlich sind die offenbar völlig legalen Quandt-Spenden in keiner Weise mit Korruption und Staatsversagen in Italien, Spanien oder Griechenland zu vergleichen." ("Naturally, the clearly completely legal Quandt contribution can in no way be compared to the corruption and state failures in Italy, Spain or Greece.") He also notes:

Doch es macht stutzig, wenn ein Sprecher der Quandt-Familie betont, die Zuwendungen seien "auch eine Anerkennung dafür, dass Frau Merkel das Land sehr erfolgreich durch die Euro-Krise führt" - und sich herausstellt, dass die CDU seit Monaten davon ausgehen konnte, Spenden in dieser Höhe zu erhalten.

[Nevertheless it looks suspicious when a spokesperson for the Quandt family emphasizes that the financial contribution is "also a recognition that Frau Merkel is leading the country very successfully through the euro crisis" - and proves that the CDU for months could count on getting donation of this size.]
The very last part seems to be the conclusions Schmitz draws from the Quandt family statement, though it seems more of an implication than proof.

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