The reception at the presidential Bellevue Palace in Berlin was attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel and a row of other politicians, but was overshadowed by the deliberate absence of an anti-corruption campaign group and the German journalists’ union.
As Wulff greeted members of the public invited because of the good works they had undertaken during last year, the morning’s media were dominated by calls he resign, from two MPs of his and Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
Karl-Georg Wellmann, a CDU member of parliament from Berlin told the ZDF television station, “My personal advice to him would be that he no longer do this to himself and his family.” The office of the president had already been damaged, he said, suggesting Wulff resign quickly rather than making this a long, drawn out affair.
And the Tagesspiegel newspaper reported that another CDU MP Hans-Georg von der Marwitz, from Brandenburg, also indirectly called for Wulff to step down. “Based on the ignoble debates of the past weeks, I suggest the president take responsibility and bear the consequences,” he said.
Further criticism came from another CDU MP Heinz Riesenhuber, who as the eldest member of parliament carries great moral weight as well as a number of ceremonial duties.
“I had expected much from Christian Wulff as president,” Riesenhuber told Die Welt daily. “But he has got himself tangled up in things which are most unpleasant and seem marginal.
“His dealings with it in public so far are not good. It is very difficult now to imagine how Wulff can spread the lustre that I would have hoped for from him. The recommendations that many expect from him have become very difficult.”
Arguments also continued about whether, and how, Wulff could publish answers to hundreds of journalists’ questions about the €500,000 loan from the wife of a businessman friend that he failed to declare, and the angry calls he made to Bild newspaper when he heard it was going to publish the details.
Wulff promised during a television interview he would release all the questions and answers, but his lawyer then said he could not do so, saying only journalists can decide whether to release the questions and answers.
A number of newspapers announced on Thursday they would waive those rights in order to see the list published.