‘Stupid oversight’: German Green chancellor candidate stumbles after failing to declare bonus

The Greens candidate seeking German Chancellor Angela Merkel's job has come under pressure after admitting she failed to declare some supplementary income, with new polls published Friday showing her popularity slipping.

'Stupid oversight': German Green chancellor candidate stumbles after failing to declare bonus
Annalena Baerbock on May 20th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

Annalena Baerbock retrospectively declared €25,200 ($30,790) in earnings over the period of 2018 and 2020.

“It was a stupid oversight,” Baerbock, 40, said Thursday, adding that she had flagged it up immediately when she noticed the error.

But her opponents immediately leapt on the slip-up just four months before September 26th elections.

Markus Blume, general secretary of the CSU, accused the Greens of “hypocrisy and double standards” over the payments, part of which was paid by the ecologist party as bonuses for recent electoral successes.

“The fact that the capitalist-critic Greens are paying their leaders bonuses for successes is grotesque,” he said.

READ ALSO: How the leading candidates for Merkel’s crown differ on big foreign policy issues

The Süddeutsche newspaper said that the case did not amount to a corruption scandal like one that had snagged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.

“But it weakens (Baerbock), because her campaign thrives from being more upstanding that her competitors,” it noted.

A survey published Friday by broadcaster ZDF showed Baerbock’s popularity sliding to 0.5 on a scale of minus five to five. Two weeks ago, she was at one point.

In comparison, Merkel who topped the chart, was at 2.1. In terms of ranking, Baerbock was now trailing Greens co-chairman Robert Habeck who lost out to her for the chancellor candidate nomination.

Overall as a party, the more relevant measure under the German electoral system, the Green party is still neck-and-neck with Merkel’s CDU-CSU conservatives.

READ ALSO: Majority of Germans ‘in favour of a new government’

Merkel’s centre-right CDU and its Bavarian CSU sister party have been roiled by damaging allegations about MPs profiting from face mask deals early on in the pandemic, forcing three lawmakers to step down.

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Germany approves €9 public transport ticket for summer

It's official - people in Germany will get cheap public transport for three months this summer after the €9 ticket was approved.

Germany approves €9 public transport ticket for summer

As part of a host of energy relief measures to cushion the cost of living crisis, the German government is offering cheap public transport for the months of June, July and August. 

Monthly tickets will be available at a price of €9 (or €27 for all three months) and they will allow people to use all buses, trains and trams in local and regional transport throughout the country.

So even if people buy the ticket in Munich, they will also be able to use local and regional buses, trains and trams elsewhere in Germany, whether it’s Hamburg or Cologne. 

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

The ticket will not be valid, however, on long-distance transport such as ICE trains or Flixbus.

The offer was put together by the coalition government – made of the Social Democrats, the Greens and the FDP.

The Bundestag voted for the initiative on Thursday, agreeing to give federal states a subsidy of €2.5 billion to fund the project. 

And on Friday, the Bundesrat – the upper house of parliament that represents the states – gave the green light to the ticket, paving the way for it to begin on June 1st. 

States had wanted an extra €1.5 billion funding boost to deal with lost revenue, however it would have been hugely controversial if they had blocked it.

READ ALSO: German states threaten to block the €9 ticket in the Bundesrat

During a debate on Thursday, federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) said the €9 project was “already a success”.

“All of Germany is talking about local public transport,” he said, adding that it is also being viewed with interest abroad. 

READ ALSO: ‘Fantastic’: Your verdict on Germany’s €9 ticket

The Left party (Die Linke) voted in favour of the €9 ticket, but leader Bernd Riexinger said he thought the plan didn’t go far enough. “Three months is simply too little,” he said.

The opposition, however, slammed the move. Christian Democrat Michael Donth called it an “expensive experiment”.

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn will offer the ticket for sale as early as Monday. Local public transport providers across the country are also preparing their ticket machines for the initiative. It will also be available in travel centres.

People with subscriptions to local transport will automatically benefit from the offer. 

In some regions, such as Stuttgart and Freiburg, the ticket is already available for purchase.

READ ALSO: How to get a hold of the €9 ticket in Berlin