Olaf Scholz’s popularity plummets to record high after memory lapse over bribery scandal

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Olaf Scholz’s approval rating plummeted to a record low after he criticized an anti-corruption probe, adding to widespread dissatisfaction with his response to the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis in Ukraine. Germany.

The Chancellor was roundly criticized for his apparent memory lapses before investigators in Hamburg on Friday, where he was questioned about his role in a tax evasion scandal.

Commentators noted that he answered 29 questions about the scandal, some of which took place under his watch as mayor of Hamburg, saying he could not remember.

A new poll on Sunday showed that 62% of Germans are now unhappy with the job Mr Scholz is doing as chancellor, up from 39% in March.

The poll by German newspaper Bild am Sonntag claimed that just 25% of people said they were satisfied with the chancellor’s job – the worst result for Mr Scholz since becoming chancellor in 2021.

The ‘traffic light’ coalition also fared poorly, with 65% saying they were unhappy with the job the government was doing.

Olaf Scholz branded a ‘traitor to the people’

Germany is mired in a series of crises, from impending energy shortages triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and a severe drought threatening the country’s industry.

The survey of 1,000 people did not include specific questions but asked respondents whether they were generally satisfied or dissatisfied with the work of Mr Scholz and the German governing coalition.

It followed a scorching week for the chancellor, who was heckled by throngs of protesters on Wednesday as he delivered a speech reiterating the government’s plan to help Germans cope with inflation and soaring housing costs. energy.

About 300 protesters descended on the town of Neuruppin, northwest of Berlin, and blasted the chancellor as a “traitor to the people” and a “liar”.

Mr Scholz then appeared before a Hamburg parliamentary committee investigating the CumEx scandal.

The scheme involved banks and investors exploiting a loophole on dividend payments that allowed them to claim multiple tax refunds and allegedly cost European governments up to 55 billion euros.

Investigators have sought details of meetings he had with the founder of a Hamburg bank involved in the CumEx transactions.

Dennis Thering, chairman of the opposition CDU party in Hamburg, described the Chancellor’s memory lapses as “incredible”.

Mr Thering said on Sunday: ‘How can he say there was no political interference if he has no recollection of what happened?

Mr Scholz, who insists he has not acted inappropriately, has struggled to shed suspicion over why local financial authorities mysteriously dropped a bid to collect £47million. euros at Warburg Bank in Hamburg in 2016.

Mr Thering called the intervention “a textbook example of political influence”.

The CumEx scandal has seen dozens of people charged in Germany, including bankers, stock traders, lawyers and financial consultants.

Olaf Scholz mount review

Even before the hearing, Mr. Scholz’s popularity was already declining after months of criticism of his handling of the war in Ukraine.

Many in Germany hold Mr. Scholz and his Social Democrats responsible for the slow German arms shipments to Ukraine.

Mr Scholz also struggled to reassure the Germans amid an acute energy crisis triggered by the Russian invasion.

The chancellor also faced a backlash this week for his failure to immediately condemn remarks made in Berlin by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

Berlin police are investigating Mr Abbas after he accused Israel of multiple ‘holocausts’ against Palestinians, sparking outrage.

Security guards had to step in to protect Mr. Scholz on Sunday from two half-naked women who staged a topless protest while posing for a photo with him.

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