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President Wulff clings on

Published: 04 Jan 2012 19:13 GMT+01:00

"I am pleased to assume my responsibilities (as president), I took them on for a five-year term," Wulff said in a televised interview amid a growing chorus of calls for his resignation.

He added that he hoped by the end of the term in 2015 "to have a record showing I was a good and successful president."

Wulff, 52, landed in hot water last month when the powerful daily Bild reported that he had concealed a home loan at an advantageous interest rate he accepted from the wife of a tycoon friend while premier of Lower Saxony state.

When opposition state deputies asked him whether he had business ties to the tycoon or any firms connected with him, Wulff had kept quiet.

This week it emerged that Wulff had called Bild's editor-in-chief Kai Diekmann one day before the story's publication and left a blistering voicemail message threatening him with "war" if he went ahead with the report.

Meanwhile another publication, Welt am Sonntag, said one of its reporters had been summoned to the presidential palace for a dressing-down over another article about Wulff's strained relationship with his half-sister.

Wulff said in the interview Wednesday that the call to Diekmann had been a "serious mistake" that was "unworthy" of a president and for which he had already apologised.

On the loan, Wulff insisted it had been a private arrangement with a friend rather than a business deal.

"I would not like to be president of a country in which you can no longer borrow money from a friend," he said.

Wulff said he would not resign as he had received strong support from Germans in recent weeks calling on him to stay in office.

A spokesman for Merkel, Georg Streiter, said earlier Wednesday she was sure that Wulff would offer a full explanation of the affairs, as political pressure mounted on both of them.

"The chancellor is absolutely confident that the president will continue to answer all open questions completely," Streiter told a regular government press briefing. "She has enormous respect for the work of the president."

The media uproar is an unwelcome political distraction for Merkel as she grapples with the eurozone debt crisis at the start of what is expected to be a turbulent year, and a replacement for Wulff would be tough to find.

AFP/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

21:30 January 4, 2012 by Kendodad
I just finished watching the interview and think he did a great job.

Is he completely clean? No.

Should he have clarified, when asked if he had ties to the tycoon, that he borrowed money from his wife? Probably. But I think it's like he said in the interview: he was trying to separate his private life from his public office. And hindsight is always 20/20.

But let me ask a question myself: are the media clean here? Was the Bild clean? Most definitely not (that rag never is). Bettina Schausten's comment about paying friends when she stays over was just plain stupid. Why did she make that mistake? Because Wulff was smart enough to wait and let the journalists hungry. Hungry for him and his explanation. She was hungry and went after him not like a pro, calm and collected, but like someone blinded by the need to get to the story and to get there first.

The media hype of the last few days provided him (and the networks) free publicity (and probably excellent ratings) in a credible forum that allowed him to be a statesman. Brilliant.

By the by: The headline is a little sensationalist: I think he is more than just clinging.

And the phrase "Wulff had kept quiet" is also not entirely accurate: He omitted a related fact that applied not to his office, but to his private life.
07:41 January 5, 2012 by starsh3ro
i feel ashamed to be a german when i see how liars like this can stay in our government.

like a little kid hes now trying to play the victim.

sure he doesnt want to resign, he needs the money!
11:06 January 5, 2012 by redsquirrel
This is not his 'private life', it's a huge loan from a business acquaintance that he did his very best to keep hidden. If he really needs to keep the money he should return to private life and not be in a position where he can influence the distribution of taxpayers money to his 'friends'.
23:05 January 12, 2012 by mos101392
I agree that as an elected official, you must assume you are held at a higher standard. However, can it be possible that he has friends too? Are only the banks allowed to give loans? I have given friends loans that had financial difficulties and the banks would not help. The banks are more willing to bury an individual but have no problem bailing out 100 billion euro loans to countries.

This sounds to me to be more of a political killing than anything else.If I were an investigator, I would look at who has most to gain from his departure.

Hold up your shoe if you receive German welfare! lol You see, they have nothing better to do with their time.

I would really like to know the ratio of those demonstrating that are receiving welfare.

BTY- I am only an American observing the German news, I do not profit from either side and only providing alternative views. I can say I would insure I am squeaky clean before I enter German politics and would not fart against the wind! :O)
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