Merkel answers public’s questions on YouTube

Chancellor Angela Merkel took to the virtual airwaves of YouTube on Friday in her first question and answer session with the public – with the most popular question being about cannabis legalisation.

Merkel answers public's questions on YouTube

But viewers keen to see what Merkel had to say about making joints legal will have to wait – she is answering the ten most popular questions in reverse order, over three sessions.

Thus in Friday’s eight-minute broadcast she tackled the topics of MPs wages, pensions, healthcare options for high-earners and politicians’ motivations. The questions were posed in a semi-formal setting, by a young man in a suit, although no tie.

The first question about why politicians and civil servants were not included in the statutory health care system, although they are responsible for it, she answered with details of how the system works, although did not directly respond to the query.

The second question was why MPs set their own wages. She said that MPs think carefully about their wages, but decided to set their pay at the same level as mayors of mid-sized towns.

When asked about the other activities of MPs, with the suggestion that they were little more than lobbyists, she said there were some advantages to having MPs with different experiences and that they were transparent about who was doing what.

A question about whether the question and answer process was a waste of time and whether the questions would go in one ear and out the other, provoked Merkel to call that a “bold statement”.

“I became a politician from passion, and find the questions interesting. That is why I always make an effort to answer truthfully and give the level of answer users are expecting.”

More than 1,700 questions were submitted by the public after it was announced that Merkel was going to offer videoed answers. YouTube users then voted for which questions they most urgently wanted her to address – with the matter of cannabis legalisation taking the top spot.

Episodes two and three, set for broadcast on Monday and November 31, the questions will broaden out into topics such as the legalization of cannabis and political bribery.

The video had been viewed more than 19,000 times by Saturday afternoon.

The Local/jcw/hc

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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.