Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

For the non-German-speakers, on the second YouTube clip. A Dutch journalist is asking a rather uncomfortable question about Wolfgang "Stasi 2.0" Schäuble, who moves from the interior to the finance ministry. It has to do with a seminal moment of recent CDU and German history, so I'll go into some detail.

Back in the nineties, Schäuble was the right-hand man and intended successor of then chanellor Helmut Kohl. Kohl maintained some black accounts to finance his campaigns, with funds from wealthy donours, including apparent kickbacks. One of these was Karlheinz Schreiber, a weapons lobbyist who paved the way for a deal in Saudi Arabia. Schäuble himself had a part in it as intermediary meeting Schreiber.

The whole affair blew open in 1999, a year after Kohl left power, to become known as the "CDU donations scandal". On the legal front, most of it was eventually successfully bogged down, but some of it is still on-going: Schreiber was handed over to German justice only recently. However, it brtought a sea change in power balance in the CDU.

  1. Kohl lost most of his influence on the party.
  2. Schäuble lost all chance to be his successor.
  3. By issuing contradictory statements on the deailings with Schreiber, Kohl and Schäuble turned from closest friends into bitter enemies.
  4. And the winner was someone no one calculated with: Angela Merkel. What worked for her in the scandal of contaminated nuclear waste containers a few years earlier now made her the (wo)man of the hour: public outrage. She was the first CDU leader to realise that stonewalling won't work this time, and she had no qualms breaking with her mentor Kohl and boss Schäuble at the same time. Leaving all CDU barons blinking in the headlight, she succeeded Schäuble as party head.

:: :: :: :: ::

Now, what did Merkel do when reminded of this, when asked: why can someone who can't remember well a meeting in which he got an envelope stuffed with 100,000 D-Mark be entrusted with everyone's finances?

She replies: "Because this person has my trust"...

The reporter asks again, "I think I said everything..."

Again, "Next question!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Oct 25th, 2009 at 05:41:31 PM EST

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