The Arms Dealer
Karlheinz Schreiber is fighting extradition from Canada to Germany. He's given millions to senior officials of the CDU.The Minister
Ludwig-Holger Pfahls, former head of counterespionage service, disappeared after allegedly getting kickbacks
Walther Leisler Kiep's confession that money was placed in secret bank accounts led to the investigation that has snowballed into the current scandal
Andre Guelfi, an 80-year-old French businessman said he paid nearly $40 million CDU officials to help win a contract, though he's backed off those claims
Wolfgang Schäuble has admitted taking cash from an arms dealer and offered to resign, but his party is sticking by him. One theory: they'll wait until the scandal's over, then dump him
As Germans contemplate their political future with the opposition Christian Democratic Union in meltdown mode over a campaign funding scandal, it's not surprising that attention has begun to turn to possible alternative leaders. Wolfgang Schäuble, the 57-year-old party chairman, offered to resign last week, but was overruled by the party leadership.
Perhaps the leading candidate to replace Schäuble at the moment is Christian Wulff, a 40-year-old attorney who is the party's deputy chairman. Wulff is telegenic and one of the leading Jungen Wilden, the Young Wild Ones, a group of up-and-coming, 40-something local leaders in the CDU. Wulff was an early critic of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the man at the center of the funding scandal, even trying to block Kohl from running for a fifth term in 1998. "The CDU does not accept that anybody puts himself outside the legal system," Wulff said last week, referring to Kohl's refusal to name the source of illegal contributions to the party. A big liability for Wulff is that he is the CDU's party leader in Lower Saxony, home of the current Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder. In the last election in Lower Saxony, Schröder's Social Democratic party whipped Wulff and the CDU.
Another Wild Young One with a chance of succeeding Schäuble is Peter Mòller, a 44-year-old former judge from the Saarland, Germany's coal belt. Unlike Wulff, Müller has a successful track record against the Social Democrats, having led his party to victory in state elections last September. But Müller has joined the chorus against Kohl relatively recently, raising credibility questions.
One possible successor to Schäuble is not young at all. Kurt Biedenkopf is the prime minister of the former East German state of Saxony, a white-haired 69-year-old. What Biedenkopf lacks in youth, however, he makes up with credentials: he was an early and outspoken critic of Kohl's autocratic domination of the party. While that was considered a liability with Kohl in power, Biedenkopf now stands out as the party's conscience in much the same way that Jimmy Carter appeared so attractive to an American electorate revolted by the Watergate affair.