Bismarck′s Legacy of Laziness | From the Fringe | DW | 21.12.2007
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From the Fringe

Bismarck's Legacy of Laziness

Otto von Bismarck will be remembered as the Iron Chancellor who orchestrated German unification and waged war against France. His great-great-grandson will be remembered as one of Germany's laziest politicians.

Portrait of Otto von Bismarck

Can't imagine Otto von Bismarck calling in sick

When faced with criticism, the elder Bismarck (1815-1898) fought back. He bribed journalists, discredited his enemies and kissed up to monarchs. But times have changed and they just don't make statesmen like they used to.

Bismark's great-great-grandson will be remembered less for any specific accomplishment than for his extraordinary laziness.

Count Carl Eduard von Bismarck resigned his parliament seat on Thursday, Dec. 20. During his two-year tenure in Germany's lower house of parliament, the media dubbed Bismarck "Germany's laziest politician."

Bismarck, 46, entered parliament as a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in 2005. Colleagues quickly became resentful of his frequent absences.

"I have to say that for the past year and a half, he has not really been taking part in the work of the CDU caucus," the CDU chairman in Bismarck's northern constituency, Klaus Schlie, told the AFP. "There is considerable displeasure about his position in the constituency."

Excused absences

Portrait of Carl Eduard Graf von Bismarck

This Bismarck often didn't show up to vote

According to the Bild tabloid, the Iron Chancellor's relative missed more than half of the 21 plenary sessions this year. He failed to show up for important votes raising sales tax by three points. He also skipped out on votes to reform the German health system and on a debate over sending German Tornado jets to Afghanistan to do surveillance work for NATO.

Bismarck said he suffered from back problems and had notes from the doctor to explain his absences.

According to Bild, Bismarck would have qualified for a lifetime monthly pension of 631 euros ($904) if he had resigned after Jan. 12. Other CDU members reportedly insisted he go before that date. But Bismarck will still be entitled to a single pension payment of 40,000 euros from the legislature.

Bismarck is the older brother of the late Count Gottfried von Bismarck, who was found dead in his London apartment this summer at the age of 44 after a life marked by drug scandals.

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