CDU's troubled reputation
With only a few months left before the elections, the image of Merkel’s party got tarnished the past weeks in light of multiple corruption scandals. What did the European press write about the allegations , and are CDU/CSU still leading with the elections approaching, or are the German Greens going for the chancellery?
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With only a few months left before the elections, the image of Merkel’s party got tarnished the past weeks in light of multiple corruption scandals. What did the European press write about the party’s troubled image?
“German conservatives mired in the ‘swamp’”, that is how Politico described the current state of both Merkel’s party CDU and sister party CSU, after the media revealed scandal after scandal. Last Sunday, Alfred Sauter, senior member of the CSU and regional parliament member resigned from all political positions, when German media reported that Sauter received 1.2 million euros for the procurement of Covid-19 face masks. He was not the first one to step down. Various scandals over alleged corruption are troubling the Christian Democratic Union’s reputation. In “Which affairs are worrying the Union” the Süddeutsche Zeitung names a few: allegations of corruption and bribery of officials against six Union politicians. It is clear that the Union has a systematic problem, these are not just individual cases, states Christian Stöcker in Der Spiegel.
And did CDU’s troubled reputation already have an impact on the latest polls?
“Contrary to popular myth, Germans can be quite tolerant” wrote Matthew Karnitschnig in Politico, but there is one thing that the German electorate does not tolerate: corruption. “German politics is generally seen as honest and transparent” explained Deutsche Welle, but the recent series of scandals have prompted outrage. In recent polls, the CDU is still ahead of other parties, but, revealed the Guardian, the party did ‘slum to historic lows’ at the latest organised regional elections. According to the projection of German ‘Forschungsgruppe Wahlen’, the Union would gain 28% of the votes, and the Greens 23%. A huge shift, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung. German Greens are coming for the chancellery, predicted Laurenz Gehrke in Politico.
But moving on to other events that made the news across Europe, some good news in Hungary this week so it seemed, or not…?
Hungary has vaccinated more of its population than any other country in the European Union, but it continues to be one of the world's worst in terms of COVID-19 deaths per capita, reports Justin Spike Budapest correspondent of Associated Press. Europa Press, states that Hungary has already received around 2 million additional doses from China and Russia. But Budapest's access to vaccines, not approved by the EMA, has not diverted attention from the country’s death toll. Les Echos quoted a study from John Hopkins University which reveals that Hungary helds the "world record death rate from COVID". Reuters interviewed a doctor who stated that ICUs are collapsing and there is not much that can be done for many patients. Hungarian independent media claim that only state affiliated media have access to the hospitals, and have published an open letter accusing Orban of obstruction, according to AFP.
And what about Austria, a country that has been in the spotlight the last week due to the complaints against the EU vaccine redistribution?
Austria showed up last week at the EU Summit with a clear objective: to change the vaccine delivery system after deciding not to buy all the doses of certain vaccines they were entitled to. Jaume Masdeu says in La Vanguardia that the only thing Kurtz achieved at the EU Summit was "getting antipathy from his colleagues, but no additional vaccines". Leaders pushed back against Kurz's lobbying, wrote Eszter Zalan in EU Observer. Politico also highlights that Austria is threatening to block the European Commission from securing another 100 million BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine doses unless Vienna gets a bigger slice of the delivery. However, According to Mehreen Khan, Financial Times correspondent, “EU officials have confirmed that the deal for the additional doses has been signed, sealed and will be delivered despite Vienna's threats”. In the meantime, Austria has announced that it is talking to Russia to buy one million doses of the Sputnik vaccine.
And in Belgium, where Corona measures might actually be lifted the upcoming weeks?
Yes, big news in Belgium this Wednesday when a Brussels judge ruled that the current Corona measures put in place are ‘illegal’. The court has given the Belgian state 30 days to resolve the issue and provide a legal framework. The trial against the state was an initiative of the Belgian Human Rights League, who argued that the measures were not developed in a democratic manner. Newspaper Le Soir states that the Belgian state has to pay a fine of 5000 per day, if it does not succeed to provide a legal basis for the measures within the 30 days. Broadcaster VRT cited some of the reactions of parliament members, amongst whom Peter de Roover who described the ruling as a “huge embarrassment for the government.” The verdict came just one week after the Belgian government announced stricter measures to counter the third wave.
Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen
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