The cry of the Wulff (19.2.12)

19 02 2012


Similar to the case of resignation of the late president of the Swiss Central Bank, Philipp Hildebrand, it seems that Northern Europe is not quite as immune as it is stereotypically thought to be to fraud, as a result of the stepping down of Germany’s Head of State, Christian Wulff.

At the very start of the year, both of these stories seemed to be mingled in a conceptual, but obviously not in a factual, manner. The Economist had described Hildebrand’s exit as “An example for Christian Wulff, Germany’s beleaguered president?” in an article under the name of “Exit Hildebrand”. Quite prophetic, indeed. Readers should remind themselves of the late act of resignation due to the involvement of his wife in a currency transaction in which inside information from the entity had been used to carry out the operation, thus generating a considerable but illegal profit. Although this took place, Mr. Hildebrand declared that he would be talking to his lawyer in search of the culprit of the leak, who would be involved in bank secrecy breaching, which as we know in Switzerland is like breaking a sacred law.

Christian Wulff was Prime Minister of Niersachsen (Lower Sachony) and became President of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2010, after having led a prominent political career at CDU (Christian Democratic Union, centre-right wing). Although not entirely the same, according to “Merkel crying, Wulff” (The Economist), Mr. Wulff was involved in dodgy and murky transaction matters, which even if they are considered legal (an investigation has started as a result of the removal of his immunity), lacked the public approval of the German people. He himself states that he acted “legally correctly” and that any inquiry would path its way towards his “complete exoneration” Examples of these suspicious affairs are enjoying free-expense holidays, a dubious house mortgage and the involvement of a public loan to an enterprise in which he had significant interest.

One of Germany’s best regarded news editors’, Der Spiegel, remind us of late president Horst Köhler, who also resigned, but this time over a comment he made over the mission of German forces in Afghanistan. Quite German. Quite correct.

All in all, it seems that this is yet another case of personal wrongdoing whilst at the head of a political office (and not just any…), involving someone, like in many other republics in Europe, most people outside of Germany had ever heard of. However, as The International Herald Tribune (IHT) reveals, the time is most unwelcoming.

This cry of resignation comes at a time where the Eurozone as a whole is trying to look for a way out of the current “spooky woods”, which are full of nerve-shocking public debts and deficits, evil speculators and critics looming on top of skyscrapers from financial districts like owls who seek to catch their prey, markets that snake up-and-down fiercely and a mostly foggy, dark and a foremost unpredictable future. Germany, as the main negotiator in the Greek bailout involving the troika, seems to have been slightly distracted. Angela Merkel, a member and head of CDU, the German Chancellor and also considered to be the present “Iron Lady” of the EU, had obviously something else in her mind as is suggested by the previously stated newspaper (IHT) as a result of the postponement of a meeting with Italy’s Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, which involves the discussion of Monday’s ECOFIN meeting in Brussels.

As weak as we might be and as liable as we may sometimes seem to take a bribe if we are in need, readers must take into account the importance of ethical action when in power. To take part in the administration of a country is more than just handling resources and people in order to optimize these, thus rendering a more effective and efficient country: It is also about giving public example, telling people how they should act on a day-to-day basis. Mr. Wulff’s annual salary amounted to around €200,000, for life. Surely, greed had to do something with the affair. Let this be an example to all future leaders.

Cecilio Oviedo




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