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GREENS

Industry chops big political donations

German industry sharply reduced their large-scale donations to political parties last year, cutting their support by around a third, according to figures compiled by parliament.

Industry chops big political donations
Photo: DPA

The Berliner Zeitung newspaper reported this week that just €1.3 million had been given in large donations to Germany’s political parties. The laws governing party financing demand that donations of more than €50,000 have to be immediately published.

The biggest recipient of industry generosity was the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, the Christian Social Union, which got €460,000, including donations from the Bavarian association of the metal and electronic industry, and car maker BMW.

Germany’s two largest parties, Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and the centre-left Social Democratic Party each received €260,000 in big chunks during the year, the figures showed.

Junior government coalition partner, the Free Democratic Party, generally described as a friend of business, punched above its electoral weight, receiving €205,000 in large donations. The Greens did not get any donations of more than €50,000, while the Marxist-Leninist Party reported a donation of €115,000 from a couple in Wilhelmshaven.

Generally large donations increase rise sharply in election years, with 2009 seeing around €6 million handed over to the political parties ahead of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s re-election.

The following year saw €3.8 million in large donations, a figure which shrank to €2 million in 2011. The continued drop to 2012’s €1.3 million could be a result of the critical debate about lobbying, the Berliner Zeitung said. It also suggested that large donations were being split up into smaller chunks to circumvent the immediate publication rule.

One notable change in the large donations section was the almost complete absence of the finance industry, the Berliner Zeitung said. The Allianz Group which has traditionally given €50,000 to each of the CDU, SPD, CSU, Greens and FDP, reduced its donations to €30,000 for each party but insisted this be published straight away, the paper said.

Corruption watchdog Transparency International has long called for the €50,000 immediate publication trigger to be reduced to €10,000.

German parties raise money from party members as well as donations – and get a certain amount of state support relating to their share of votes.

The Local/hc

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CDU

Germany’s centre-right CDU to elect new leadership by end of the year

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party will elect its new leadership by the year's end, general secretary Paul Ziemiak said Monday, detailing plans for a clean slate after a disastrous election that the party lost to the Social Democrats.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and CDU leader Armin Laschet on the election campaign trail in Aachen before the election.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and CDU leader Armin Laschet on the election campaign trail in Aachen before the election. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Federico Gambarini

In power for 16 years under Merkel, the Christian Democratic Union is grappling with its deepest crisis in decades after turning in a historic low score in September’s election.

Its leader Armin Laschet last week signalled his readiness to step aside, setting the ball rolling for renewal at the top.

READ ALSO: Laschet signals he’s ready to step down as CDU leader

Ziemiak said a date for the congress to determine the new makeup of the party’s top brass as well as how rank and file members can participate in the leadership selection process will be announced on November 2nd.

But the party’s leaders “today agreed unanimously that we will elect a completely new executive board,” he said, adding that in terms of the calendar, the “window for this is year’s end”.

Bild daily had reported that the party has made a tentative booking for December 6th-13th in Dresden for its possible congress.

READ ALSO: Germany edges a step closer to a government led by Social Democrats

Laschet, who is state premier of Germany’s most populous region North Rhine-Westphalia, was elected head of the CDU in January.

For some time, he was the clear favourite to succeed Merkel, who is bowing out of politics after running four consecutive coalitions.

But his party’s ratings began to slide as he committed a series of gaffes, including being caught on camera laughing in the background during a solemn tribute to flood victims.

With the CDU’s ratings plunging, Merkel tried to boost Laschet’s campaign with joint appearances, but was unable to help the conservatives pull off a win on election day.

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