The Federal Transport Minister sticks to his chair and nobody wants to untie him. During his interview at the final meeting of the Committee of Inquiry into the botched car toll, Andreas Scheuer once again showed himself to be in peace with himself and the world. He had acted “rightly” and would do so again. Remorse, shame, decency are not the matter of the CSU man and even with the SPD one sees no reason to demand his resignation. As a thank you, the Union spares Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the writer and thinker Minister of Family Affairs. For political culture, all the activity is disastrous.
Andreas Scheuer did not resign on Thursday. This was the day on which the grand finale of the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry into the circumstances of the failed immigration toll rose. In the hours before, during and after his appearance on the “dock”, the media once again dealt with pretty much everything that the Federal Minister of Transport had done wrong in the affair. Quite a few commentators put the attacked near to take his hat. In the population, the mood is clear anyway: for nine out of ten, the CSU Depp is no longer sustainable in his office.
Nevertheless, Scheuer did not resign this time, as little as on several previous occasions, which would have required this step long ago. He is still firmly in the saddle. And even without clairvoyant skills, one probably remains right in the end that he will hold his post until the next Bundestag election in autumn. It doesn’t even take much magic for the idea of seeing him still glued to his chair tomorrow when the entire government abdicates today.
Permit: Sun King
In general, the museum directors of the republic will one day tear themselves away from Scheuer’s chair. The exhibit is a must for any cultural-historical exhibition-as a memorial to obsession with power. Never before in post-war Germany has it gone past a federal minister what he piles on crap and how badly he pollutes his office, political morals and democratic rules of conduct. There were times when a politician of his rank vacated the seat because of a false letterhead (Jürgen Möllemann). The lights never go out just for chafing. As he sits opposite his “accusers” on Thursday, who accuse him of lying, of abuse of office, of obscuring and disregarding award, budget and EU law, and a usher prepares to lower the slats on the windows, he jokes: “You can leave the sun at will. For me, the sun is just rising.”
He is right. What, if not dazzling, are his prospects, he has only just left office. As is well known, the greatest possible failure is rewarded in the political business with the highest-paid follow-up employment in industry and finance. That’s why Scheuer doesn’t stumble for fun or for incompetence. Called to serve the German car industry, the digital economy and the privatization lobby, he steadfastly takes a beating for the interests of those for whom he secretly makes policy. His “foreigner toll” was then only superficially a treat for the CSU-beer tent rank and file. The project was always part of a comprehensive simulation game to establish a general toll on German roads in the medium term. It was designed by the low-interest-ridden banks and insurance companies in 2014 in the Fratzscher Commission. Three years later, the federal government and the länder supplied the associated Autobahn GmbH, which has been responsible for the sale of the federal roads to the detriment of taxpayers since the beginning of the year.
It also hooks up tremendously, and Scheuer also holds his head out for it. But every start is difficult, and in a few years ' time, Allianz and Ergo will remember who they owe this to. This also applies to others, for example the ride - hailing service Uber, which will soon be legally enforcing its exploitative and repressive methods in German cities on Scheuer’s legislative initiative. He wants to make autonomous driving possible soon and create the legal conditions for it before the Bundestag election. So the man is still needed. A replacement so close to the final whistle can no longer work all this off, especially since no one else brings such taker qualities.
So no one can do anything to the Andi from Lower Bavaria. That he made the car toll contracts without legal certainty, which will cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of euros in the foreseeable future? So what! Is not his money, the state is responsible for it with unlimited liability. That, in order to save the deal with the operating consortium, he pushed its bid by a billion euros with windy tricks, so as not to break the spending framework approved by the Bundestag? Schert Scheuer not, was only meant well, for the “good of the federation”, as confirmed in the U-Committee. That his highly paid “consultants” certified the awarding of the toll operation to private bidders with doctored appraisals and counterfactually estimated the alternative state model as overpriced. That the contracts were then readjusted shortly before the gates closed for “synergies” by including the truck toll collector company Toll Collect, without the okay of parliament.
“To the best of my knowledge and belief”
All this is not a problem for the Minister of Transport, after all happened only “to the best of his knowledge and belief”. Although he understood the displeasure about the project, which the European Court of Justice (ECJ) had tipped as illegal in mid-2019, half a year after conclusion of the contract, which provoked a damages action of the prevented operators Kapsch and Eventim over 560 million euros. But if he were in the same situation again today,“I would act like this again”. The U-Committee has brought to light all sorts more what Scheuer means by “righteousness”, for example, various clandestine meetings with his business partners, which he initially concealed in order to later come out with the truth in bits and pieces.
In addition, there is strong suspicion that he may have used private e-mail accounts and other non-official mailboxes as a secret channel for the exchange of information about the car toll. New findings in the matter promised most recently the establishment of a special investigator on behalf of the Green, Left and FDP parliamentary group. But the Ministry of Economic Affairs (BMVI) blocked the already “detailed” organized “workflow” and withdrew its interim agreement to have the material evaluated by the lawyer and former Green politician Jerzy Montag. Thus, the" investigators " were probably deprived of compromising documents with which the minister was to be confronted during his final interrogation. The Volte was justified by waiting for a decision of the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) in the matter. This was done promptly on Friday, the day after the big showdown, and basically states that the minister’s correspondence with his secretaries of State and department heads must be disclosed.
Political culture on the decline
This shows once again: Scheuer continues to disguise and cover up where he can and can only be restrained by the highest courts. If at all, because it is still open whether he will appeal against the judgment. So far, he has done everything that gives him time. According to Oliver Krischer, chairman of the Green Parliamentary group in the U-Committee, the minister acted “with almost criminal energy” to push through the CSU prestige project. He had led the Germans by the nose, he complained in an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung. That he"does not resign despite clear violations of the law is a scandal, and it means a frightening change in the political culture in Germany".
In fact, the damage done by his conduct to the integrity and credibility of the political class could hardly be worse. When politicians no longer waste any thought on standing up for their mistakes and boast of a “clear conscience” in the face of events reminiscent of mafia machinations, what remains of the role model function of the gentlemen and ladies representatives of the people? As if there had not already been enough cases of obvious, often “unpunished” abuse of power and office, Causa Scheuer sets completely new standards in terms of depravity. As long as he does not even make the exit with his ellenlange sin register, who should and would then ever have to resign at all?
In addition, clinging to power was never so undignified. Scheuer has the image of a joke figure, no one takes him seriously anymore, he embarrasses himself without ceasing, for example with his tirades against a speed limit or his advertising inserts for SUV fuel eaters and air taxis. Nevertheless, he holds the position ironically and of course does not seek the guilt with himself, but in his PR department. At the beginning of January he put his press spokesman Wolfgang Ainetter in front of the door after he had already exchanged a personal speaker, two state secretaries and two department heads. In the antechamber of the minister, secretary dwindling shall reign, in no other department the sick rank shall be higher. As it is called, his staff says “advice resistance” behind closed doors.
If not himself, why do not others have mercy on him? Why doesn’t the Federal Chancellor give him the pass or CSU boss Markus Söder? He owes the fact that no one “resigns” him to special power and party political constellations. This starts with Angela Merkel (CDU) in the midst of the corona crisis and so close to the end of her regency, nothing would be more unpleasant than a personnel debate. Scheuer benefits even more from a non-aggression pact between the Union and the SPD. What is the toll debacle for him is the Wirecard bankruptcy for Finance Minister and Chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz, which has only grown to such dimensions through the criminal omission of the supervisory authorities. In addition, questions arise about his role in connection with the scandal over so-called cum-ex transactions. During his time as mayor of Hamburg, Warburg’s private bank had been granted tax refunds amounting to EUR 46 million. Scholz has to defend himself against accusations that this could have happened with his active involvement.
Corpses in the basement
Scheuer sees himself exposed in the toll affair quite criticism on the part of the SPD. However, demands for withdrawal are not made by higher party levels. When asked about this, SPD chairman Kirsten Lühmann said on Thursday: “No, this is not our business.” That was different. Before Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (CSU) in 2011 and Education Minister Annette Schavan (CDU) in 2013 had to resign their posts due to cheating on their doctoral theses, the Social Democrats were among the most zealous accusers. Of course, at that time they were sitting on the opposition bench. Today, on the other hand, Franziska Giffey, a family minister from her own ranks, is being held responsible for the same crime. Although she even aspires to higher things and wants to become the governing mayor of Berlin, the Union makes her quite undisturbed.
This, too, is probably due to the fact that the SPD in return demonstrates leniency with Andreas Scheuer. After all, everyone has their bodies in the basement. And that’s where they should stay. After the Bundestag election, things could look different again and the coordinates for righteousness, morality and decency could suddenly shift. Until then, however, the dictum of Scheuer applies: “The fact is, we have acted rightly.”