Merkel breaks pelvis as new German coalition bickers

Updated: 2014-01-07 09:07



Merkel has also drawn criticism for the planned switch of her recently departed chief of staff, Ronald Pofalla, to a high-paying position as a political lobbyist for state-owned railway operator Deutsche Bahn.

News of Pofalla's move, which has not yet been finalised, came just two months after prosecutors opened an investigation into another top Merkel aide, Eckart von Klaeden, over his move to the top lobby job at German carmaker Daimler.

Opposition parties and anti-lobby groups have denounced both moves as evidence of a "revolving door" between politics and business in Germany.

Seibert said on Monday that Pofalla had told Merkel in late November, in the midst of coalition talks, that he might move to Deutsche Bahn. Merkel had recommended to Pofalla that he take a "cooling-off" period before moving into the new job, said Seibert, who declined to comment on whether the chancellor supports the move.

Alexander Kirchner, a union leader who sits on Deutsche Bahn's supervisory board, criticised the silence. "I think it's absurd that the government hasn't said anything," he told Reuters. The rail operator has called a special meeting on January 30 where the Pofalla case is expected to be discussed.

With the Pofalla row continuing and cabinet colleagues from Merkel's Christian Democrats, their Bavarian allies in the Christian Social Union and the Social Democrats arguing on a range of issues, Merkel can ill afford to be resting as her doctors have recommended.

She will not attend the Davos World Economic Forum later this month, Seibert said - not due to her accident, but because it clashes with plans for a cabinet "retreat" on January 22-23 outside Berlin. But it was unclear whether Merkel would attend that crucial political meeting or will have to postpone it.

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