Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s close friendship with President Vladimir Putin and lucrative business dealings with Russia have for years been reluctantly tolerated at home. This week, the new chancellor Olof Scholz called for a clean break from the pro-Kremlin lobbyist.
The weekly Der Spiegel said of Schroeder that “he is a burden to Germany’s foreign policy and to his old party” and that “he has clear goals, not for his country but for himself.”
The former chancellor is one of the many actors in the Ukraine-Russian drama lured into submission by Russian money. Boris Johnson’s Tory government is another important global participant that is shackled by its dependence on Russian cash.
Back to Schroeder though, his is a clear case of international revolving doors based, as Der Spiegel clearly noted, on the purely egoistic motivation of lucre.
Politicians thinking of earning their daily bread beyond the duration of their term of office often end up preparing the way long before their proverbial ride into the sunset. Take Matteo Renzi, Italy’s former premier – in October 2021 he sat on the board of Russia’s largest car-sharing company called Delimobil. His reply to negative reactions was that everything had been done according to law. “If he wants to do business he should leave politics,” was the reply.
You can see what I am getting at. Disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat claims he was offered consultancy work after his term as prime minister ended (abruptly, we add). This is aside from his ultra-generous and unequalled severance package that includes an office paid by the State. That is public money at the service of a private individual – to make matters worse it is given to him notwithstanding his disgraceful record of service.
Behind all this is the gradual obliteration of the line between public and private. Our political class has evolved (or should I say devolved) into a giant leech that transforms public good into private interest. The Res Publica is becoming a Res Privata faster than you can say procurement rules.
The deals at the top of the food chain are supported by minor deals replicated and cloned all the way down to the phantom jobs for the boys paid out of the public purse.
There is also no hope for reform as long as the ultimate trustees of the Res Publica remain oblivious to the rape and pillage that is going on around them. Every day. Every day. Every single day our investigative journalists unearth stories concerning the fading divide between public good and private interests.
Then there is the saying that the fish rots from the head down. Robert Abela is becoming Labour’s new albatross as more and more questions are asked of him and his wealth. The public and the private intertwine to the detriment of us, the bloody rest.
Interestingly, we have had backtracking of sorts on a particular sale of public land. The reversal of the much-trumpeted Zonqor point deal with the Not too American Not too University of, well, they got the last one right, Malta, came as a surprise for some. Apparatchik yes men of the spineless kind such as Owen Bonnici were applauding this ‘return’ of public land to the people in direct contradiction to their position at the time the deal was done and dusted.
Similar battles are being fought today in Marsascala concerning a possible development in the bay. This time round a vociferous civil society seems to making great inroads into the otherwise obstinate bulldozing attitude of the powers that be. Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne has thrown his weight on the side of the opposition to the marina, though confusingly a vote for Fearne next election will have the same weight and lead to the same result as a vote to, say, Ian ‘tree-destroyer’ Borg.
Work that out if you like, but to continue from last week’s conclusion that the stakes of next election are much higher than choosing between two parties. The barbarians are not at the gates, they are in the palaces of power clowning away your future euro by euro. It is not a good time for this to be happening, then again could there ever be a good time?
The republic needs to be wrestled back from the hands of its marauders and pillagers. We may already be running out of time.