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POLITICS

Köhler eyes second term as president

Federal President Horst Köhler will run for a second term, according to reports in the Saturday edition of Bild. He already has a broad base of support from the parties, and the approval of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Köhler eyes second term as president
Photo: DPA

In his regular meetings with party leaders in recent weeks, Köhler has been assured of widespread support for his candidacy, Bild reported on Saturday, citing government and party insiders.

Köhler himself said that he would only seek a second term if he had support from across the political spectrum. Merkel, who heads the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and Guido Westerwelle, head of the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) already gave Köhler the nod before Easter.

Even the Social Democrats, who supported their own candidate, Gesine Schwan, in the 2004 presidential election, have recently signalled their willingness to keep Köhler in office.

If he is indeed confirmed in office in May 2009, the majority of Germans should be pleased. According to polls, around 75 percent of Germans would welcome the prospect of another five years of Köhler as their largely symbolic head of state.

Köhler has not yet officially confirmed his candidacy – the former head of the International Monetary Fund said he would only do so about a year in advance of the election date of May 23, 2009.

POLITICS

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has sued the German parliament for removing some of his official post-retirement perks over his links to Russian energy giants, his lawyer said Friday.

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Schröder, 78, has come under heavy criticism for his proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin and involvement with state-backed energy companies.

The decision to suspend Schröder’s taxpayer-funded office and staff in May was “contrary to the rule of law”, Michael Nagel, told public broadcaster NDR.

Schröder “heard of everything through the media”, Nagel said, noting that the Social Democrat had asked for a hearing before the budget committee responsible but was not given the chance to express himself.

READ ALSO: Germany strips Schröder of official perks over Russia ties

Schröder’s lawyers filed the complaint with an administrative Berlin court, a spokesman for the court confirmed.

In its decision to strip him of the perks, the committee concluded that Schröder, who served as chancellor from 1998 to 2005, “no longer upholds the continuing obligations of his office”.

Most of Schröder’s office staff had already quit before the final ruling was made.

Despite resigning from the board of Russian oil company Rosneft and turning down a post on the supervisory board of gas giant Gazprom in May, Schröder has maintained close ties with the Kremlin.

The former chancellor met Putin in July, after which he said Moscow was ready for a “negotiated solution” to the war in Ukraine — comments branded as “disgusting” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Last week, the Social Democrats concluded that Schröder would be allowed to remain a member after he was found not have breached party rules over his ties to the Russian President.

Schröder’s stance on the war and solo diplomacy has made him an embarrassment to the SPD, which is also the party of current Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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