Bavarian conservatives pick their top candidate Friday for a German regional election in September overshadowed by scandal. For years, numerous Bavarian parliamentarians employed immediate relatives as paid assistants.
Bavaria's regional assembly speaker Barbara Stamm has vowed to publish the names of scores of parliamentarians, mostly of her governing Christian Social Union (CSU) party, who retained existing contracts with spouses and children despite legislative restrictions in 2000.
Her warning came hours before the CSU at a special convention in Munich was expected to pick its party leader and Bavarian premier Horst Seehofer (pictured above with Stamm) as its leading candidate for the southern German state assembly's election on September 15.
That poll takes place one week before Germany elects its next Berlin-based federal parliament, the Bundestag, on September 22. Seehofer is a close coalition ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is seeking a third term.
Stamm vows disclosure
Stamm said late on Thursday that 78 Bavarian parliamentarians, mostly of her CSU as well as several members of the opposition Social Democratic (SPD) party, the Greens and an independent had retained close relatives as paid assistants beyond 2000 under an exception inserted into legislation governing the assembly's own running.
"If anybody objects to publication, that they be named, I will still, however, do it; then he should sue me," Stamm said.
Bavaria-based Federal Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberg told Munich's Merkur newspaper on Friday she was "stunned" by the extent of "self-serving" within Seehofer's CSU.
Leutheusser-Scharrenberg is a senior member of Germany's pro-business liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) which is a junior partner in Merkel's federal coalition. It mainly comprises Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and allied Bavarian CSU.
Last week, a senior Bavarian assembly figure, Georg Schmid, quit his role as CSU leader in the Munich chamber while insisting that he had done nothing wrong in paying his wife a hefty monthly salary out of state coffers.
On Wednesday, a leading pollster Forsa clocked Merkel's conservatives 3 percent lower at 39 percent nationwide, but the opposition SPD continued to languish on 23 percent with the Greens polling historically high on 14 percent.
The jobs-for-relatives scandal comes on the back of the shock admission last week by Bayern Munich soccer club president Uli Hoeness that he had evaded tax. He had been a Merkel business adviser and had previously railed against tax evasion.
Nationwide, Social Democrats led by their candidate former federal finance minister Peer Steinbrück as well as opposition Greens had argued that they had been correct during a federal upper chamber vote in December to block a proposal by Merkel's government for a tax amnesty with Switzerland.
The abortive amnesty would have imposed taxes on assets hidden by Germans but would have kept their identities under wraps.
Seehofer's CSU, which gathers in Munich late Friday to pick its top assembly candidate, has ruled the rich southern state since 1957.
ipj/hc (Reuters, dpa, AFP)