Germany. The year was marked by a political giant scandal and an acute crisis within the former Chancellor Helmut Kohl and his Christian Democratic party CDU. The previously revered “reunification chancellor” fell apart from his political pedestal as the scandal grew. Kohl himself admitted that he had received the equivalent of SEK 8 million. in support of the party, but CDU has received grants on far larger sums – how big will probably never be known. What the donors were, Kohl did not want to say because he had given them his word of honor for not revealing their names. However, he admitted that the party had secret accounts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
It was a furious Kohl who appeared before the parliamentary committee that investigated the matter. According to Kohl, the blame was for the mischief that hit him with German mass media, malicious Social Democrats and fraudsters within his own party. When asked for the purpose of donating the money to the CDU, he responded brusquely that he had never been a batsman. It was also revealed that the government office had shredded large amounts of documents and erased a large number of data files before the change of power after the 1998 elections, when the Social Democrats and the Greens gained government power. Kohl said he had no idea why this had happened. Whether the destroyed documents could have shed light on who or who behind the scenes had tried to influence German politics with money could not be decided. A preliminary investigation was initiated against him for taking bribes, but the prosecutor closed the case. Kohl had to pay a fine of SEK 860,000 out of his own pocket because of the party contributions.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: Offers three letter and two letter abbreviations for the country of Germany. Also covers country profile such as geography, society and economy.
Helmut Kohl turned 70 in April, and within the CDU there were far-reaching plans to celebrate the man who had been leading the party for 25 years and of them 16 years as Chancellor of the Party. But the plans were discreetly set aside, and CDU paid only what it cost to set up the party at short notice. Kohl celebrated the day in a secret place with his wife and some close friends.
Given that it was Kohl who led the country through the reunification of East and West Germany, it would have been even more objectionable for the old chancellor that he was not put on the speaker list when the 10th anniversary of the reunification was celebrated in Dresden. Kohl got angry and didn’t come at all. The party was economically winged. According to German law, all parties must account for contributions above a certain level, and the party and its leaders had for years hid and kept large sums of money.
The CDU was already affected in February by demands for fines and canceled government subsidies totaling SEK 175 million, and shortly before Christmas of additional fines of SEK 33 million. To some extent to cure the financial losses, Kohl collected 6 million D-marks to his party. Of these, his personal contribution included 700,000 D-mark, which he had obtained by mortgaging his house in Oggersheim. This time, the donors were not anonymous.
The bribery scandal shook the CDU in its foundation, although a party within the party did its best to turn its old party leader’s back. The party also tried with some success to make the scandal a Kohl scandal from which you could distance yourself. But Kohl had lost his popularity, and when he sat down in December to sign his memoirs – where he makes up with old enemies about the scandal – a man pressed a cream cake on his face. Kohl’s successor Wolfgang Schäuble was sacrificed after he reluctantly and, under severe pressure, admitted that he had received 100,000 D marks from the well-known gun dealer Karlheinz Schreiber. When Schäuble and a former party treasurer provided contradictory, sworn information about how the money had been handed over, the party leader was forced to resign.
At the CDU party congress in July, the previously unknown Angela Merkel from eastern Germany was elected party leader. It was the first time a woman became the leader of a political party in Germany. Merkel’s honeymoon within the party lasted for almost 100 days. It came to an end when Chancellor Gerhard Schröder won one of his biggest political victories in July when he managed to get a majority for the government’s tax reform, with tax relief for both employees and companies worth SEK 260 billion. until 2005. The tax package was to be adopted by the so-called Federal Council, a kind of first chamber, and there the CDU had a majority. Angela Merkel therefore sat in her political innocence, waiting for the victory. Gerhard Schröder, on the other hand, acted with brilliant tactics when he succeeded in convincing representatives of big finances – CDU: s traditional support troops – on the excellence of the tax package. He then overpowered the three critical states of Berlin, Bremen and Brandenburg with promises of such generous government investment that politicians could ultimately not resist and voted against the directives of the CDU’s party leadership.
Angela Merkel was obviously shocked and, if possible, even more clueless than before. The prime minister also managed to get the coalition partner the Greens to agree on a compromise on the decommissioning of nuclear power in Germany. The government signed an agreement with the power companies to shut down all 19 nuclear reactors in the country at the beginning of the 2020s; before the EU ministerial meeting in December in Nice demanded more power for Germany. The record-breaking meeting ended with a compromise that did not satisfy the requirement.
The Bundestag voted for a proposal to initiate proceedings in the Constitutional Court to ban the Nazi Party NPD (National Democratic Party of Germany). NPD was formed in 1964 and was the largest in the 1960s, but then it became more marginal. The party was now on the rise and had doubled its membership to 7,000 in 2000. “NPD is anti-Semitic, xenophobic and violent,” said German Interior Minister Otto Schily.
For the first time since the Second World War, Nazis marched through the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin at the beginning of the year. They objected to the plans for a monument to honor the Jews murdered during the Second World War. NPD chairman Udo Voigt said in a speech that the monument would be an undesirable spot on the nation’s capital. During the year, a large number of Nazi acts of violence were carried out, and in Dessau in eastern Germany, these cost a man with an African background his life. Two fire bombs were thrown at the Düsseldorf synagogue. Several demonstrations of Nazism were conducted, and counter-demonstrations took place. Otto Schily banned the skin peel group Blood and Honor, which is also active in Sweden, citing that the group propagates Nazism through CDs, newspapers and websites. German police chiefs met in November to discuss what the police could do to counter the right-wing extremism. The head of the German counterpart to SÄPO, Bernhard Falk, stated that the right-wing extremists have increased their international contacts. In particular, he cited Sweden as one of the countries where the German Nazi exchange is greatest.
Germany needed well-educated people in the IT industry, and to satisfy this need a new immigration law was introduced. This means that green cards can be issued to well-educated foreigners who have already obtained jobs in Germany with a salary of at least SEK 450,000. a year. With the green card, the person concerned can bring their family with them and stay in the country for five years.
An extensive debate on immigrants took place at the end of the year. During the debate, a new concept was introduced, Leitkultur, which means leading or governing culture. The expression should reinforce German identity and let immigrants understand that they must follow German culture and follow German customs and customs. The term was coined by the CDU group leader in Federation Day, Friedrich Merz, and was probably the starting shot of the campaign ahead of the next election, where the party needed a theme to profile itself.
Germany needs manpower but unwillingly welcomes poor, uneducated people – or, as Bavarian Interior Minister Günther Beckstein put it with surprising openness: “We want people here that we can exploit, not those who exploit us.”
According to COUNTRYAAH, the population of Germany in 2000 was 81,400,771, ranking number 12 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.060% yearly, and the population density was 233.5348 people per km2.