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Politicians abandon election fight for holidays

Germany's general election may be looming, but it hasn't stopped the country's politicians heading off on their summer breaks in the middle of a campaign.

Politicians abandon election fight for holidays
Photo: DPA. Angela Merkel on holiday in Italy in 2012.

With six weeks to go before polling day, lots of top politicians have gone on holiday, leaving the election trail cold, The Local found after ringing around offices from political parties.

Enjoying a week off so close to polling day would be unthinkable for politicians in the US or UK, but for the Germans it is a normal part of the summer routine – election or no election.

Yet it seems accepted here and Malte Lehming, a journalist at Berlin daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel and contributor to The Local, said politicians were right to go away and recuperate even in the midst of an election battle.

He said: “They have a demanding job, especially the chancellor. Hopefully, the more recuperated they are, the better they will work. Workaholics in an election campaign? No thanks.”

To politicians in other countries, the idea of sitting on a beach during an election stands in stark contrast to the run-ups to their polling days.

Norman Lamb an MP for the British Liberal Democrats and a health minister in the government told The Local that six weeks prior to election day was a hectic time in the campaigns he had fought. “It is a frantic period,” he said. “Normally we would be doing our day jobs as a constituency MP and ministerial duties. We would be at the heart of the campaign. The build-up starts months before.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel is currently on holiday in Italy, but one politician who has stayed at home, unable to waste a day of campaigning, is the main opposition leader Peer Steinbrück.

His party, the Social Democrats (SPD), sits at 23 percent in the latest polls – 17 points behind Merkel’s CDU/CSU – prompting a non-stop tour of the country which started in Hamburg on Thursday night.

He launched the tour by attacking Merkel. “I’m appealing to everyone who still has plans for this country,” he told a crowd of 2,500 supporters.

Tom Bristow

What do you think? Should politicians take holidays during an election campaign? Leave your comments below.

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UKRAINE

Germany’s Schröder to remain in Social Democrats despite Putin ties

Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will remain a member of the ruling Social Democrats (SPD), the party said Monday, finding his ties with Vladimir Putin did not breach its rules.

Germany's Schröder to remain in Social Democrats despite Putin ties

The SPD’s Hanover branch said Schröder, whose party membership falls under its umbrella, was “not guilty of a violation of the party rules, as no violation can be proven against him”.

The branch had opened a hearing in July to discuss 17 motions from local and regional chapters against Schroeder’s ongoing membership of the party.

The decision can be appealed, but legal experts say there are high hurdles for expelling members.

Schröder, chancellor from 1998 to 2005, has refused to turn his back on Putin despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

His stance has made him an embarrassment to the SPD, which is also the party of Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

READ ALSO: Germany’s Social Democrats move to dispel Schröder over Putin ties

He has also been widely criticised for holding a number of lucrative posts at Russian energy giants, and it was only after much public pressure that Schröder in May gave up his seat on the board of Russian energy group Rosneft.

He later also announced he would not be joining Gazprom’s supervisory board as initially planned.

Germany’s parliament in May removed some of the perks Schröder was entitled to as an elder statesman, stripping him of an office and staff.

Schröder, 78, who was Angela Merkel’s immediate predecessor, has remained defiant and met with Putin in Moscow in July.

In an interview after the visit, he claimed Russia wanted a “negotiated solution” to the war – comments branded as “disgusting” by Ukrainian
President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Schröder has also called on Berlin to reconsider its position on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which stands completed but was blocked by the German government in the run-up to the invasion of Ukraine.

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