Angela Merkel crisis: 60,000 sign petition against Chancellor's 'paid politics' culture

As the Chancellor prepares to pass the baton on later this year, her final months look to be some of her most challenging yet amid growing discontent among Germans.

The Youth Council of the Generations Foundation has hit out at Mrs Merkel for allowing a system of political lobbying completely lacking in transparency to fester.

Rifka Lambrecht, 20, who started the petition, said the problem has got so bad that it has threatened to bleed into corruption and something must be done urgently to rein it in.

She said: “Lobbyism in Germany is systematic because there are no controls.

“Transparency is an absolute alien concept in our government at the moment.

“And lobbyism often goes so far that it is difficult to distinguish from corruption.”

The Youth Council of the Generations Foundation is focused on developing socio-political campaigns and aims to empower youngsters to initiate public debate. Its members are aged from 15 to 25.

Miss Lambrecht pointed to recent lobbying scandals which have blighted Mrs Merkel’s government during the Covid pandemic.

Two senior lawmakers from Mrs Merkel’s conservative alliance resigned following accusations they profited from the public health crisis and allegedly benefitted from state purchases of masks.

Speaking to Bavarian news outlet Bayerischer Rundfunk, Miss Lambrecht pointed the finger of blame at the Chancellor for allowing lobbying to escalate.

READ MORE: German lockdown: Angela Merkel calls for national closure

“And as long as paid lobbying is possible, we have no chance at all.”

In late March the mask scandal sped up the passing of a law that requires lobbyists to be more transparent about their influence.

But Miss Lambrecht argues the new legislation does not go far enough.

She said the new rules would not prevent another mask affair from happening “since the lobbyists we are talking about were actually politicians and therefore do not have to register themselves in this register.”

She said she and her fellow campaigners are “extremely disappointed” with the law which she said “leaves a lot of back doors open” for unfairness.

The petitioner insisted that full transparency should be part and parcel of being a politician.

Mrs Merkel is due to step down as Chancellor this autumn following 16 years in the top job.

Recent polls have shown support for her government waning amid Europe’s third Covid wave.

On Wednesday a spokeswoman for the German government said the Chancellor supports demands for a short, tough lockdown.

Germany is struggling to tackle the new wave of infections and has been hit by a disastrous vaccine rollout.

Deputy government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer told reporters: “Every call for a short, uniform lockdown is right.”

She added Germany was seeing a growing number of intensive care patients.

However, voters in some German regions that are less affected by the surge in case numbers want the economy to get back to normal.

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.

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