First comes the pizza, then comes morality

In the political arena, lobbying is taken for granted, as in the case of Hunzinger: Time to stand up for political culture once again

"There are overlaps with the CDU on ies of economic and financial policy …", said the Green budget expert Oswald Metzger already in 1998, in line with the new green economic liberal mainstream around Rezzo Schlauch, Matthias Berninger or Cem ozdemir. That there is some truth in this can be seen at the moment in the affair about the political lobbyist Moritz Hunzinger. And also that there are these overlaps with practically all parties.

At the beginning the excitement was rough. Even rough enough for the removal of a federal minister. But it was only enough because Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping had already put his foot in his mouth several times before. That’s how politics works today. A few times a bad image and the chancellor media minus points provided, already one is away from the window. What really happened is no longer so important. Scharping had accepted money from the political lobbyist Moritz Hunzinger, and not in a completely clean way. That is, actually, at the time of his departure, it had not yet been properly clarified. Anyway, the chancellor had a few clues, and he was in a bad mood and didn’t really like Scharping anymore.

Quickly other politicians got into the gossip about Hunzinger, the rough story then surprisingly hit the Grunen Cem ozdemir. He had taken out an ominous personal loan from Hunzinger, whose comparatively low interest rate now turned into a "imputed income" reconstructed. Now Stern and max regularly publish new lists of money recipients and wait for the big coup, namely the proof of a criminal offense.

People meet, in parallel and independently of this, love a little money

That in principle there could be something wrong with the lobbyist practice publicly discussed on this occasion does not seem to occur to everyone. Now there is nothing a priori to prevent "political salons" and "parliamentary evenings" as little as they object to fraternity members and old men’s. Under the amption that the well "the economy" If the welfare of society as a whole is based on the concept of the "good of society", it is almost self-evident that politicians have to deal more intensively with the concrete interests of the former. For if an actor of the economic order, who in this context at the same time acts as a "Expert" If an actor in the economic system, who is also a political advisor in this context, sees a need for political action, it is advisable for the politician to give in to this need in order to demand economic growth.

"It must be and remain normal that one cannot be influenced in one’s decisions. One must never be influenced by others, but the fact that one is in contact with so-called lobbyists is part of political work every day, and there is nothing attractive about that. And also contacts with Mr. Hunzinger cannot be dangerous per se. The decisive factor is always whether one adheres to what the mandate of a member of parliament entails, namely independence."

The deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Wolfgang Bosbach (CDU), on Deutschlandfunk radio

Let’s ame that the minister of defense and executives of a German arms company meet at a political salon. We have a nice chat, and in passing the weapons experts let the politician know that there are sales difficulties in certain areas of their product range, among other things because potential buyers cannot be supplied due to export bans. Independently of the parallel, but not causally related, payment of just under 10.000 euros, which was immediately passed on by the minister to his party, the minister sees a need for action: Since exports are in principle good for Germany as a business location (u.a. Jobs!) and thus also in general, it is in the interest of the people if ways can be found to make the banned arms exports possible after all. In the eyes of the minister, of course, this has nothing to do with influence exerted by business representatives. If it did, it legitimized itself by achieving a higher goal, and so the spiral of argumentation continues to turn.

Not a problem because it is normal and not a crime

This way of thinking, roughly illustrated by this fictitious example, is now found across party lines and is also the reason why hardly any politician finds anything objectionable about this form of lobbying. The role model is once again the USA, where in the capital Washington the PR industry, which is assigned to politics, allegedly generates an annual turnover of between eight and nine billion US dollars. Once again a (same) argument for the demanded connection of economics and politics.

In principle, this is not a new development, as can be read, for example, in the book Helmut Kohl, die Macht und das Geld (Helmut Kohl, Power and Money), written by SZ editors Leyendecker, Prantl and Stiller. The title is somewhat misleading, since only the first part of the 600-page waltz is about Helmut Kohl himself, and even then it is about the long history of the connection between business and political parties, especially the CDU. In the second part Michael Stiller describes a very special variant of it, namely the famous "Straub system", which continues to have an effect today in the affairs surrounding the Schreiber trials. In terms of awareness of injustice, the party donation affair set standards that continue to exist today.

Those directly or indirectly affected by the Hunzinger affair want to make us believe that the whole thing is not a problem, firstly because there is no criminal offense (corruption) or similar (obligation to report in the Bundestag), and secondly because the process is completely normal anyway and any excitement is laughable.

Cem ozdemir claims that he has not made any commitments to Hunzinger or any other interest groups. This may be literally true. He forgets that professional lobbyists do think in perspective. Of course, it is a good strategy to make political actors dependent on you at the very beginning of their political career. Does Cem ozdemir really think that he will be able to avoid the later desire for a marriage just like that, after Hunzinger once helped him out of a jam with a not inconsiderable sum of money?? Did he really think that the granting of this loan had nothing to do with his political activity?? ozdemir is drawn to such questions on his "Naivety" back. However, given his political career and his ability to market himself outside of politics, this seems rather implausible. It is possible that many politicians are not aware of the sometimes subtle form of influence exerted. All the worse.

On the surface, it may seem surprising that the opposition does not take the opportunity to dismantle its political opponent, since it does not miss any absurd opportunity to do so (which, by the way, also applies vice versa). This reticence is made understandable by the fact that politicians of all parties regularly received fees from Hunzinger (and probably others as well), whether they were paid into private or party accounts.

However, the blocking of a law announced by the governing parties to force parliamentarians to disclose their supplementary income seems paradoxical. The ie is "too important to rush it through now" the opposition says, and that the ie has been discussed in detail "the impression that SPD and Grune want to use the ie for election campaigning under the impression of the Hunzinger affair." This is an interesting "Argument", especially when one considers that the ringleader of the whole affair was Rudolf Scharping, who is known to be a member of the SPD.

The primacy of the economy undermines political culture

It may be that in Scharping’s and especially ozdemir’s cases there were really no concrete intentions of Hunzinger behind it. But you have (once again) brought into the public eye a fact that has long since become a cliche, namely the intermingling of business and politics. What is new is the self-understanding with which this fact is taken as a given and even as desirable. There is not only no consciousness of injustice, but on the contrary, critics are still exposed to ridicule. As long as there is no awareness of injustice – and this also applies to the financing of political parties – no one will enact a workable law against this. Because the legislators are at the same time the primary ones affected by it. As long as economic growth is the primary political goal, this end will continue to justify all means.

Hunzinger allegedly supported all Bundestag parties except the PDS with donations in the nineties. Again everything legal. The "Wirtschaftswoche" reports that Hunzinger has made a total of more than 500.000 euros – of course, a large part of it in the popular 20 euro stucco.000 euros to prevent them from appearing in the parties’ accounts. Or should this stucco be coincidence? If everything is so normal, why this game of hide and seek??

If the ruling policy is at least indirectly influenced by lobbyist groups, then this is contrary to the idea of democracy. Because these lobby groups are not again representatives of burgers, but of individual interests of large corporations. One may or may not believe in the primacy of economic policy, but it is clear that there are other legitimate concerns of citizens. But they can’t get their deputies to attend parliamentary evenings during the current legislative period by paying them five-figure sums, at which they are then allowed to present their concerns.

The anti-corruption law passed in 1994 is a joke. Given the legal situation, no German politician is likely to be convicted of corruption unless he himself makes a confession. The enforcement of the law ultimately fails due to the subtle mechanisms described above, which have now become ingrained. The entire framework, from the regulation of supplementary income to the law on party financing, makes it possible to create a finely woven web of dependencies that finds no legal counterpart in the crude legal formulation.

A management consulting firm – which, after all, should know – is already calling for an increase in the salaries of members of parliament and, above all, ministers, in order to reduce their susceptibility to influence from outside. Hans Herbert von Arnim, party researcher and critic of the existing party system, believes that a fundamental change of attitude and a corresponding legal regulation are necessary beforehand.

In an election year, none of the established parties is willing to engage in a fundamental discussion of politics and economics. Michael Glos, head of the CSU parliamentary group, ventured furthest with his defense of the prevailing practice. Lobbyism gehore "to business as usual" and everyone must "to decide for himself whether he feels dependent or whether he is expected to do something in return". This now testifies to a political understanding very much in the spirit of Helmut Kohl. What is right and wrong is best decided by each person for himself or herself. And who could do it better than the political elite of our country, which verbally elevates itself even above the Bundestag and the Federal Constitutional Court, like the candidate for chancellor Edmund Stoiber.

This arrogance goes hand in hand with an unshakeable belief in the primacy of economics. Since this belief has spread within the parties, mores have also become visibly brutalized, to put it conservatively. Lobbying at the EU level has also reached a level that exceeds the national level. It is time for political culture to regain importance in everyday political life, as opposed to a belief in the economy.

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