Paid Corruption In Germany: The Pofalla Case

Deutsche Bahn’s supervisory board is screaming blue murder and has decided to inform the public so as to put into question the Christian Democrat Ronald Pofalla’s transition from the political arena to the economic one. Apparently, he will be responsible for the German railway lobby, in order to improve its relationship with politicians from Berlin and Brussels. Pofalla was Angela Merkel’s “man of confidence”, as well as a good friend of Rüdiger Grube, Deutsche Bahn’s CEO, whom he had already helped (when he was still working as Merkel’s cabinet chief) in defence of the German railway interest.

The Pofalla Case highlights the web of interests between politics and economy. A politician is hired in order to take up an appointment as the railway lobby boss in the economy scenario, with not even a month interval between both positions. This Case also highlights that the supervisory board works: its president, Utz-Hellmuth Feltcht, immediately addressed the media and declared that the company’s management didn’t inform the board, which is in charge of authorizing the recruitment of new members for the governing board.

According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, the supervisory board will not give the go-ahead to Pofalla’s arrival until the president of Deutsche Bahn, Grube, convincingly responds before the control body on January 30.

Mr. Pofalla will resign his post as MP and the first reaction of the CDU Party is to declare him guilty of the increasing political indifference and discontent in the population. After all, Rüdiger Grube waited until after the general elections to take a decision, because it wasn’t the same to have a coalition between Christian Democrats and Liberals than between Social Democrats and Ecologists.

The Pofalla Case highlights a serious lack of political style and damages the acceptance of the power system. According to Robert Rossmann at Süddeutsche Zeitung, there are 200 MP in the Bundestag who come from the public service. But there are no laws establishing a particular period of time in order to avoid conflicts of interest. In the European Union, EU commissioners have 18 months if they want to change their post.

That’s why the Pofalla Case could now have legal consequences. Gregor Gysi, chief of the leftist parliamentary group, said that in Germany, many professionals enter in politics in order to “take advantage of the business world.” Now Pofalla, as member of Deutsche Bahn’s government board, will earn seven times more than Angela Merkel.

The left parties ask for a lack period between these two spheres. For its part, professor of Public Administration and Constitutional Law Hans Herbert von Arnim considers that the Pofalla Case “is a form of paid corruption.”

About the Author

Lidia Conde
She studied journalism at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Since 1991, Lidia lives and works in Germany as a correspondent for several Spanish newspapers, in which she has covered the fall of the Berlin Wall and the German reunification. Seeking an answer to how Europe could become competitive and fair, too.

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