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Merkel’s party under pressure over donation

Christian Democrats received 690 thousand euros donation from the Quandt family that owns almost majority of shares in BMW.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is under increasing pressure due to a controversial donation involving the automobile giant BMW.

CDU has received a big donation from the BMW owners last week, right as the German government has blocked in Brussels tough EU regulations for curbing automotive emissions.

Quandt/Klatten family members that own almost the majority of shares in BMW donated the party with a total of 690 thousand euros two weeks after the September 22 elections.

The donation became public this week, as it was published at the web page of the German parliament. Political parties are obliged by law to immediately inform the parliament’s administrative unit on donations that exceed 50 thousand euros and these are published on the web.

Anti-lobby groups have strongly criticized the controversial donation pointing out to its possible influence on German government’s decision to block EU regulations for curbing automotive emissions. Anti-corruption groups have immediately started a campaign for changing rules of party-funding, claiming that such influence of big business on political parties could undermine functioning of democracy.

- CDU dismisses criticisms

“The Chancellor cannot be influenced or pressed by 690 thousand euros,” said Michael Fuchs, Vice-Chairman of the CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group, on Wednesday, dismissing growing criticisms by anti-lobby organizations and opposition parties.

“It is not for the first time Quandt family is making donations to the CDU,” Fuchs told German public radio Deutschlandfunk, adding that these donations were also made when their party was in opposition. “Quandt family also made donations to the other parties, including the SPD, the CSU and the FDP,” he said.

According to the official statistics, Merkel’s CDU is well ahead of others in receiving donations that exceeds 50 thousand euros.

During the first 10 months of this year, Christian Democrats (CDU) has received a total of 1 million 410 thousand euros by various donors. The main opposition Social Democrats could only raise 217 thousand euros, while the liberal FDP received only 193 thousand euros.

The Green Party and the Left Party (Die Linke) could not receive any single donation that has exceeded 50 thousand euros.

-Calls for an upper limit

According to Edda Mueller, chair of the anti-corruption organization Transparency Germany, the big donation of BMW owners to the CDU is in line with the legal and formal rules. But it still constitutes a big problem according to Mueller, as it creates an unequal situation among the political parties and is not it compatible with the principle of democracy.

Transparency Deutschland, has suggested on Wednesday introducing an upper limit for the donations to political parties and called on President Joachim Gauck to take the initiative.

“Our suggestion is to limit donations to political parties with 50 thousand euros per person or per group during a year” Müller told German press.

Both the representatives of the main opposition SPD and the small opposition Green Party expressed support for the proposal but they underlined that the upper limit should be 100 thousand euros.(AA)
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