The arbitration commission rejects the demands presented by 17 regional associations of the party against the controversial former chancellor, architect of Germany’s energy dependence on Russia
Few political figures are there right now in Germany who arouse as much rejection as former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Under his management, Germany’s energy dependence on Russia was cemented, an issue that now affects all of Europe. And on top of that, the decision to build the Nord Stream gas pipeline, taken in 2005 by Schröder and Russian President Vladimir Putin, was followed by a spectacular case of revolving doors: a few months after leaving the Chancellery, Schröder went on to sit on several boards of directors of consortiums controlled by the Kremlin.
The Social Democratic Party (SPD), however, has now chosen not to act against who was its president between 1999 and 2004, as well as chancellor between 1998 and 2005. The arbitration commission of the SPD in Hannover, Schröder’s political homeland, has rejected this Monday the demands presented by 17 regional associations of the party from all over the country. They requested the opening of a disciplinary file against the former foreign minister, as a first step towards his expulsion.
“We do not appreciate that it has caused damage to the party or violated its statutes,” that party’s arbitration body justified its decision. Damaging the formation is a key issue for an expulsion procedure to prosper, which can also take years to resolve.
The “damage” to the party did not refer to the revolving door scandal, an issue that was already controversial enough in 2005, but that did not lead to consequences. Nor was he referring to the relationship of friendship and political alliance that Schröder dispensed from power or outside of it. The demand of the 17 regional associations was based on the fact that the former foreign minister still has not broken his ties with Putin. Indeed, he defends them to the challenge, as he has demonstrated with two recent trips to Moscow, ostensibly to “mediate” with the Kremlin.
Serve the ‘patron’
In recent months, Schröder has given up his chairmanship at Russian oil company Rosneft and his nomination to join the giant Gazprom, which controls Nord Stream. He did so amid strong pressure from the SPD or, perhaps, at the risk of being included among those pro-Putin figures sanctioned by the West. Something that Schröder, a lawyer as well as a politician, knows that he can be very expensive.
For many Germans, Schröder continues to serve his ‘patron’ Vladimir. The leadership of the SPD, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s party, has repeatedly distanced itself from its former president. He has even been invited to voluntarily leave his militancy. An option that would immediately resolve the dilemmas of social democracy in the face of a former chancellor who has become the shame of the party.
“I have nothing to regret,” said Schröder, in a recent interview with a German media. A defiant attitude, which reminds him of the piece of music he chose in 2005 for his nightly military farewell ceremony from power: ‘My way’.
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