Wulff €280,000 pension generates further anger

Tue, Mar 6, 2012, 00:00

TWO WEEKS after he resigned, the scandal surrounding Germany’s ex-president Christian Wulff has gone into extra time.

After just 18 months in office, the German state has announced it will pay the 52-year-old a pension for life of €199,000 – as well as cover the costs of an office, staff and bodyguards. He may have cause for the latter, given the public unhappiness over the total cost of his annual pension package: €280,000 annually.

The German government has said the package reflects Mr Wulff’s legal entitlements under current law but has raised the prospect of changing the law for future heads of state. Opposition politicians have demanded that Mr Wulff decline the pension.

“There’s no correlation between 40 years of pension for 20 months’ work,” said Christian Lange, parliamentary spokesman for the opposition Social Democrats.

Mr Wulff took office in 2010 but resigned last month after he conceded being economical with the truth about a low-interest home loan from a business friend during his time as state premier of Lower Saxony. A media probe revealed that Mr Wulff and his wife accepted a series of free and discounted holidays, including invitations from business people with whom he had official dealings.

Mr Wulff insisted he had reimbursed all friends and paid his way with business contacts, but resigned on February 17th after conceding he had lost the trust of the German people.

Last Friday, state prosecutors searched the ex-president’s house in Hanover as part of their investigation. Mr Wulff will be given an official farewell with military honours from the presidential seat of Bellevue palace on Thursday.

On March 18th an electoral college is set to choose cross-party candidate Joachim Gauck, an East German pastor and activist, as Germany’s next president.