According to a court decision, former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) has no right to a state-funded office. On Thursday, the Berlin administrative court dismissed a lawsuit brought by the 79-year-old against a decision by the Bundestag. The parliamentary budget committee sacked Schröder in May 2022, around three months after the start of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine.

The administrative court examined an action by Schröder against a decision by the budget committee in May 2022 to withdraw some of his special rights and to wind down his office. The lawyers requested that this decision be declared illegal and made available to the former chancellor’s office and staff.

For several decades it has been customary for former Federal Chancellors and Federal Presidents to be given an office after the end of their term of office. This is to serve the completion of tasks resulting from the previous office. The offices were previously made available for life and could exist for decades. In the spring of 2022, however, the coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP generally reorganized the alimony. It now depends on whether the former top politicians actually still take on tasks related to their former office, such as having patronage and giving speeches.

Schröder was chancellor from 1998 to 2005 and party leader of the SPD from 1999 to 2004. Before he was stripped of some of his special rights, he was heavily criticized for his connections to Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin – including within his own party. Several of his employees had already given up their posts after the Russian attack on Ukraine. Schröder’s connections to Russian corporations or Putin were not mentioned in the motion approved by the budget committee.

The process is so far unique in German history – and of fundamental importance. According to the court spokesman, the lawsuit puts current state practice to the test. In view of the fundamental importance, it can be assumed that the case will ultimately not be decided in the first instance.