Wulff faces calls to quit
President Wulff with his wife. AFP photoGerman President Christian Wulff, an ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, faced resignation calls yesterday over a home loan scandal and allegations he tried to hush up the story.
Wulff, 52, has been hit by accusations that he intervened to try to stop revelations by the mass circulation newspaper Bild last month over a personal loan he received from the wife of a tycoon friend.
He left a furious message on the voicemail of Bild’s powerful editor Kai Diekmann threatening legal action and also reportedly contacted the chief executive of Bild’s publishing house Axel Springer and its main shareholder.
Two days after the story appeared, Wulff again contacted Diekmann by phone apologizing for the “tone and content” of his earlier comments, Bild said, adding it had decided not to report the incident. Amid rising anger in the country at a perceived attack on the freedom of the press, the Financial Times Deutschland said he should step down from his office. “Everything taken together, it’s slowly becoming too much ... his credibility has been hit by this plethora of mistakes. A man who is dragging around such a burden can no longer remain president,” the FTD said.
Wulff, a conservative ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, has faced intense pressure from German media to step down since Bild reported in mid-December that he misled lawmakers in his home state of Lower Saxony over his ties to a wealthy businessman whose wife gave him the 500,000 euro home loan. A spokesman for the Association of German Journalists (DJV) condemned Wulff’s actions Jan. 2. In a hastily called four-minute television statement in December, Wulff tried to draw a line under the scandal, admitting he should have disclosed to Lower Saxony lawmakers a loan from the wife of business leader Egon Geerkens.
Compiled from AFP, AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.