Germany Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder loses battle against the state

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is not entitled to an office and staff at taxpayer expense

Germany Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder loses battle against the state

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is not entitled to an office and staff at taxpayer expense. This was decided this Thursday by the Administrative Court of Berlin, after the Social Democratic politician filed a lawsuit against the Federal Republic of Germany for revoking the privileges he enjoyed as a former president. The decision to withdraw Schröder's right to an office and staff, unprecedented in the history of this country, came in the context of the war in Ukraine, although the politician's connections with Russia were not used as an argument.

The Committee on Budgets had decided in May 2022 to close Schröder's office in the Bundestag. The reason given was that the former chancellor was no longer fulfilling any obligation related to his former activities. His lawyers deny it. For example, Schröder continues to receive "lots of inquiries from citizens." They also note that all previous office holders have been granted a lifetime position, regardless of whether and for how long they continued to serve in their office.

Schröder's defense therefore requested that the decision of the Bundestag Budget Committee be declared illegal and that the former chancellor's office and staff be returned to him.

"It was an illegal decision," said Schröder's lawyer, Ralph Heiermann, before the verdict was announced. He argued that his client had not had the opportunity to comment before the decision was made and stressed that nothing like this had ever happened in the country's history. "This is unworthy of a rule of law," he said.

His colleague Michael Nagel stated that Schröder had not wanted to take the case to court, but in the absence of talks, there was no other option. "This has to be legally clarified in a rule of law." The former chancellor did not attend the hearing. Schröder was out of town and would not comment at this time, even after a decision, Nagel explained.

Schröder was chancellor from 1998 to 2005 and leader of the SPD from 1999 to 2004. Before being stripped of some of his special rights, he had come under fire for his ties to Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin, including within his own party. . Several of his collaborators had already resigned from their posts after the Russian attack on Ukraine.

In the motion approved by the budget committee, Schröder's connections with Russian companies or Putin had not been mentioned as a reason for the withdrawal of special rights. At trial, it was left open whether the issue had played any role for the commission. "What about the Ukraine war?" Judge Xalter asked Thursday in this context. "Everyone perceived that it happened in that context."

For several decades, it has been customary for former foreign ministers and former presidents to receive a post at the end of their term. Previously, charges were given for life and could last for decades. Formally, the office and staff are subordinate to the Federal Chancellery. A few years ago, the Federal Court of Accounts had criticized the lack of control. Since she left office, former Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) has run an office with nine employees, some of them highly paid. Schröder's office has seven rooms and recently four employees.

According to the criteria of The Trust Project