Southwest introduces waiting period for ministers

State Parliament of Baden-Württemberg

The state parliament, recorded on the evening of the state elections in Baden-Württemberg. Photo: Marijan Murat/dpa/archive image

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With a ministerial post on your CV, after leaving politics, big money in the free economy often lures you: To ensure that the change does not have any taste or even harm public interests, the state parliament has now decided on waiting period rules.

From the ministry straight into business, earn a fortune? In the future, stricter rules will also apply to ministers and state secretaries in Baden-Württemberg when they switch to lucrative jobs in companies. The state parliament decided on Thursday with the votes of the Greens and the CDU to introduce a grace period for government members. The rules do not go far enough for the opposition.

Because ex-ministers are changing into the economy southwest not banned per se for a certain period of time, even if they have previously been politically active in the same area. From 2023 onwards, however, ministers and state secretaries must at least report new jobs to the state government for the first year and a half after their withdrawal from politics. If there are fears that public interests will be harmed, the government can delay the job change by a year, in serious cases by a year and a half.

An external committee is to check individual cases for conflicts of interest. In this context, the case of the ex-environment minister keeps coming up Franz Untersteller (Greens), who became an advisor to the Mannheim energy supplier MVV just a few months after retiring from politics.

So far, unlike in the federal government and other federal states, there have been Baden-Wuerttemberg no rules preventing politicians from leaping into lucrative jobs. In their coalition agreement, the Greens and CDU had made it their goal to ban employment for a certain period of time after leaving office in some cases.

The law is completely inadequately described as a big hit, said SPD MP Boris Weirauch on Thursday. He spoke of a paper tiger that does not prevent politicians from turning insider knowledge into money. The federal government goes much further with its waiting period. The obligation to report and the possibility of objection are correct, said the FDP MP Nico Weinmann. However, the body must not be appointed by the state government, but must be Parliament to get voted. In addition, a so-called standard example is missing in the new law, which states that a conflict of interests can be assumed if the person concerned wants to pursue a new job in their former department.

AfD right-wing politician Anton Baron criticized that the law remained vague and nebulous. He also criticized the lack of sanctions for non-compliance with reporting requirements.

The law is based on the regulations in the federal government and other countries, replied the Green MP Thomas Hentschel. Ministers also have the right to freely choose their place of work. A blanket regulation is prohibited, each individual case must be examined. Not every activity of a former minister in the same area automatically leads to the country’s interests being violated.

It’s about the population’s trust in the integrity of those in government, said State Secretary in the State Ministry, Florian Hassler (Greens). Politicians should not be made unnecessarily difficult to get into business. The view that any prior dealing with a topic should be sufficient to restrict follow-up activities is simply too sweeping. A ban on employment only makes sense if the public interest is endangered in the specific case. “There is no automatism.”