German Politics

Miles & More.

Remember the words of the great Baz Luhrman:

“Accept certain inalienable truths: prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old; and when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.”

OK, history teaches us that politicians will philander. For German politics then, this week was certainly historical – this week, a fair amount of well known and less well known politicians fell prey to an unprecedented wave of accusations and subsequent resignations – the most prominent politician to step down was Gregor Gysi, senator for economics in the Berlin state government and the most prominent figure the socialist Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) has to offer.

And what is the fuss all about? It’s about Miles & More, the well known frequent flyer programme of Lufthansa. According to the internal rules of the Bundestag, deputies are not allowed to use the miles they received for flights conducted for official business for non-official purposes. But then, normally, their frequent flyer accounts are protected from official inspection by Lufthansa’s privacy rules. No wonder then, that some politicians relied on Lufthansa to protect their privacy from the public and used their miles for private purposes. But somehow, someone was able to obtain this information and so it was subsequently published by Germany’s most infuential tabloid, BILD, with the above consequences.

Have we all gone bonkers? How can we expect anyone of modest intelligence to become involved in high-profile politics if the BILD-Zeitung and other media can ruin their careers with a headline concerning something as unimportant as the discretionary private use of frequent flyer miles.

We know that politicians will philander, fair enough. But if we use a standard like the one used in German politics this week, the statement might become untrue in the future, for the simple reason that there won’t be any politicians left to philander.

The person who has never used a corporate copier or sent and email from the office for private purposes throw the first stone. All others, sit down and be quiet.