BMW family donation to Merkel's party stokes lobbying row
German opposition parties accuse leader of pandering to the car lobby
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) party said three donations made by the BMW family on October 9th and totalling €690,000 ‘have no connection to any political decisions’. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
German opposition parties have accused Angela Merkel of pandering to the car lobby, after her conservatives received major donations from the family that controls BMW, just as Berlin was lobbying against tougher EU caps on carbon emissions.
Ms Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) said the three donations made on October 9th and totalling €690,000 “have no connection to any political decisions”.
The funds came days before European Union environment ministers backed German demands to scrap a deal to cap EU car emissions that Berlin had argued would cost jobs and damage its premium auto makers.
The donations came from Johanna Quandt, the widow of industrialist Herbert Quandt who is credited with transforming BMW, and her children Stefan Quandt and Susanne Klatten. The family owns almost 47 per cent of BMW.
Social Democrat Joachim Poss wrote that the short period between the donation and Ms Merkel’s backing for the car industry were “grist to the mill for all those critical of party donations.”
A spokesman for the Quandts said they had decided in January to donate to the CDU but waited until October to transfer the money because they did not want to get involved in campaigning for Germany’s September 22nd election.
The payments were registered with parliament, as required for all personal donations to parties of more than €50,000.
Carmakers Daimler and BMW produce heavier and relatively less fuel-efficient vehicles, meaning they would find it challenging to meet the proposed cap on carbon emissions of 95 grams per kilometre for all new cars from 2020, analysts say.
The CDU said the Quandt family had supported it with donations for years, regardless of whether they were in government. The three family members had also each given the party €150,000 euros after the 2009 election, which saw Ms Merkel enter a coalition with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD).
Ms Merkel’s conservatives emerged as the dominant force in last month’s election but need a partner. They are talking to both the SPD and the Greens, with the former seen as the most likely partner. The Greens are strongly in favour of limiting CO2 emissions to 95 grams per kilometre.