The candidates competing for the presidency of the CDU appeared in any case in a uniform manner. When Friedrich Merz, Armin Laschet and Norbert Röttgen presented themselves to the Junge Union in October, they wore a dark blue face mask with the logo of the CDU and CSU youth organization.
But, as so often, the problem starts with the fine print. Because the bottom edge of the masks also featured the logo of a Dutch mail-order pharmacy, the inscription was on the right cheek of the men, one of whom could become chancellor.
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DocMorris was apparently one of many sponsors of the event advertised as a “pitch” by the JU. But only DocMorris was allowed to advertise on the masks of the candidates. In addition, a company that has been making life difficult for pharmacies in the inner cities of Germany for years. Accordingly, pharmacists reacted angrily to the action of the GO, as reported by the “Pharmazeutische Zeitung”.
“As a youth organization, we have been working with supporters from the business world at our events for years,” says Antonia Haufler, federal director of the JU. In addition to DocMorris, this also includes the pharmacy association. The GO does not want to provide information about the income from sponsorship and the drafting of the contract, questions about this remained unanswered. It is therefore unclear whether it was contractually agreed that Merz, Laschet and Röttgen would be photographed with the masks.
Expert sees a ‘border crossing’ in the action
Annette Sawatzki of the Lobby Control organization thinks this is very likely. “Sponsor contracts are about where and how the sponsor is placed at the event.” The Junge Union’s campaign is “crossing borders”, the lobby expert criticizes. “It has never happened before that politicians advertise a private company on their bodies.”
Unlike a party donation, sponsorship does not have to be disclosed in the financial reports of the parties. Sawatzki demands an end to this lack of transparency.
But why is it that a mail-order pharmacy based in the Netherlands can present itself so prominently at a German party event? This could have something to do with the fact that the company has a direct line with the GO: former deputy GO boss Benedict Pöttering was in charge of the Public Affairs division at Swiss group Zur Rose, to which DocMorris belongs.