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Ex-German chancellor sues parliament over privileges

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Berlin, Aug 12: Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has sued the German parliament, Bundestag, on Friday for taking away some of his state privileges in May, German news agency DPA reported.

Schröder filed a lawsuit at the Berlin Administrative Court, demanding back his parliamentary office, his lawyer Micahel Nagel told the news agency.

Ex-German chancellor sues parliament over privileges

The Bundestag had closes Schröder's publicly funded office and reallocate his staff, after his refusal to condemn Russia's leader Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine.

It is customary for German chancellors to receive a state-funded office and staff to continue their political work after they have stepped down or retired.

While pensions of chancellors and presidents are regulated by law, other provisions for them fall under the budget of the Bundestag.

The decision to cut some of Schröder's privileges

It cost about €407,000 (roughly $412,681) in taxpayer funds last year to keep his office and staff, with the figure being more than half a million euros as recently as 2017.

Several employees had also resigned from their posts at Schröder's office since the invasion.

"The budgetary committee observes that former Chancellor Schröder no longer carries out any duties that result from his former office," the parties' joint motion read.

The German parliament is headed by current Chancellor Olaf Scholz and made up of a coalition of three parties — the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Green Pary, and the Free Democratic Party (FDP). All three parties of the governing coalition voted to cut back some of Schröder's rights.

The parties' motion argued that the "endowment for former federal chancellors should in the future no longer be status-related, but should be based on the continuing the obligations arising from their office."

However, the decision to revoke Schröder's privileges ignited a debate within Germany, with some arguing that other politicians, like former Chancellor Angela Merkel, had bigger staff and continued receiving benefits even though she didn't actively work for the country anymore.

Schröder under fire

The 78-year-old former chancellor was the last SPD leader before Olaf Scholz, having led Germany from 1998 until 2004. But after he lost the 2005 election, Schröder took on jobs with Russian energy giants and developed a personal relationship with Putin.

The once popular leader has continued maintaining close ties to President Putin, falsely absolving the Russian president and laying the entire blame on Moscow's military commanders for the atrocities in Ukraine.

Even though the SPD has tried to persuade Schröder to give up ties, the party maintains that Schröder's tiesdidn't amount to a violation of the party rules and could not be expelled.

Source: DW

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