In the lobby affair surrounding Philipp Amthor, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is a dazzling marginal figure. There are rumors surrounding his return to the political stage. But would the Union want him back at all?
Philipp Amthor’s fame is based on a performance of just over six and a half minutes. So short is the million-fold YouTube clip, in which the then 25-year-old member of the Bundestag did what many other, older and more experienced colleagues had only proclaimed until then, and then immediately sat back, satisfied, as if the work had already been done.
So this Amthor did not simply rave about “providing the AfD with content”, he actually put it in the Bundestag in February 2018. Simply by legally picking up an application from the AfD parliamentary group. A little old-fashioned, a little pretentious, but – effective. His sentence “Listen to me, then you can learn something about the constitution” is almost a heroic legend of the government district today.
It is one of the peculiar twists and turns that federal politics are sometimes able to bring to the fore with Amthor’s sudden fall a second man who has gained a little more than just six and a half minutes of fame – but the crash then also stops contributed significantly higher climes: Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, Federal Minister a. D.
The affair with the ominous start-up Augustus Intelligence, to which both Amthor and Guttenberg had business ties, not only marks the (preliminary) end of a steep career for a young conservative from Mecklenburg. The best side effect of the debate is probably that it should finally give momentum to efforts to increase lobbying transparency in the Bundestag.
In addition, however, the events cast new light on the baron, who is still haunted by German and Bavarian politics. Sometimes he does that as a promise, sometimes as a threat, it depends on the perspective.
In any case, it is still the case even after years in exile in America. In his prime, Guttenberg once had an aura somewhere between conservative Barack Obama and Tom Cruise. Political operations do not forget something like this so quickly; simply because it’s so rare.
His wife and he were considered a political dream couple, on the best way to the Chancellery. Until, yes, until a doctoral thesis came in between, Guttenberg has put together a few jokes over the years. This demonstrative self-irony bathed in refinement is generally very well received.
But what is Guttenberg doing today? Where and how exactly is he working outside of Augustus Intelligence? And could he possibly actually return to the big political federal stage again?
A corresponding request from WirtschaftsWoche through his Berlin office was left unanswered by the editorial deadline. Anyone who then listens to him in the CDU and CSU hears a lot. Hardly anyone would like to be quoted with answers to the questions, there are rumors, speculations, speculations and a lot of contradictions.
The following can only be considered fairly certain: Guttenberg assumes that some have a deep longing for a return to politics, driven by the idea of full rehabilitation, reparation. Only at the same time, no one really feels a longing for his return.
How different that was a good ten years ago. At that time the Junge Union formed something like the top Guttenberg fan club. Oh, finally one to look up to! Conservative, but somehow cool. Cosmopolitan and yet rooted. Noble and yet so casual. Guttenberg’s black hearts just flew to them.
Damn long time ago
And today? Mark Hauptmann is chairman of the young group in the CDU / CSU parliamentary group. The 36-year-old finds much warmer words for his current faction colleague Amthor than for a former like Guttenberg. Amthor is doing “politically great work, he is very committed and of course ambitious – that is perfectly fine and distinguishes him,” says Hauptmann. Amthor, himself a member of the young group, has taken a personal position and is interested in clarification. “That,” says Hauptmann, “is what counts.”
Guttenberg against it? Hauptmann doesn’t really want to talk about him. In any case, the CDU man does not look as if there is an increased interest in his future career.
Other MPs don’t sound like the Union was just waiting to be rescued by a fallen US returnee. “Honestly, Guttenberg no longer plays a political role,” says a CDU MP. “Karl-Theodor is a great communicator, but he definitely lacks substance,” says a CSU student. The personnel of the controversial head of the Ex-Constitution Protection Department, Hans-Georg Maassen, who also appeared in the Augustus area, makes a fatal impression on many Unionists in the middle.
And yet: The fact that Stephanie zu Guttenberg recently told the “Gala” about a family return to Germany is causing talk in the capital. Some spread the rumor that “KT” is looking for an electoral district for the return to the Bundestag, others consider that to be empty talk, even nonsense.
Its role as a projection surface of the post-Merkel era has taken over anyway; at least since Horst Seehofer handed over the CSU party chairmanship and the Bavarian prime ministerial office to Mark Söder. Seehofer was previously considered someone who would have liked to help Guttenberg make a comeback. Against Söder. Not so long ago the whole thing, but as from past times.
And then there is still Friedrich Merz. The aspirant to the party presidency, says the head of the young group Mark Hauptmann, “enjoys increasing approval in the party”. In his opinion, there can be no question of a coronadelle due to a lack of presence: Merz stands for high economic competence, and “we need it more than ever at the moment”.
For the reconstruction of the German economy, partly in the midst of a structural change, new business models are needed in all conceivable industries. “In order to develop these and create the optimal framework, economic expertise is required,” Hauptmann says, “and Friedrich Merz certainly has that to offer.”
More on the subject:
Bundestag member Philipp Amthor (CDU) is not the first politician to have problems with sideline work. But the desire for more transparency has never been greater. In business, of all places.