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Germany

Gerhard Schröder's (Extremely) Short Retirement

None of Germany's political establishment could imagine Gerhard Schröder jobless. Neither could he, apparently. Beginning January the "media chancellor" will consult a major Swiss publishing house.

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Dubbed the media chancellor, he knows his way around publishing

Ringier Publishing is known for the screaming headlines and scandalous scoops of its prominent Swiss and eastern European tabloid titles.

On Thursday, chief Michael Ringier dropped a PR bombshell of his own. Beginning Jan. 1, Gerhard Schröder will act as a consultant to their international political division. The former chancellor had been 'former' for all of one day, following the parliamentary election of rival Angela Merkel on Monday to the chancellery.

Instead of getting back to his lawyerly roots or writing his autobiography, as he had promised, Schröder accepted his good friend's job opening.

"He will be available to me and other employees," Ringier said at a press conference.

The door-opener

The company is the biggest media house in Switzerland and one of the most active on the eastern European market. It has 6,000 employees spread equally in Switzerland and eastern Europe. In addition to the best-selling tabloid titles Blick and Sonntagsblick, the company publishes papers and magazines in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Serbia.

Zeitungsleserin in der Schweiz

Ringier's Sonntagsblick apologized in 2002 for publishing a false story that got the Swiss ambassador to Berlin fired

Schröder and Ringier have been good friends for some time, and the chancellor spoke at the Swiss publishers' annual meeting last year. Ringier said that Schröder's political experience would enrich the house and help "open doors."

He couldn't say what Schröder would be doing, only that the work relationship will "somehow develop" itself.

"You don't work out a contract over a 40-hour week with a person like that," Ringier said.

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