Should politicians take pay cuts in the crisis?

Many people are having to accept financial losses in the coronavirus crisis and there are calls for politicians to also renounce part of their income. New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has cut her salary by 20 percent and Austria's ministers plan to each donate one month's salary. Europe's media are divided on whether such sacrifices are a necessary gesture of solidarity.

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Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Everyone must make sacrifices

In the Tages-Anzeiger, journalist Michèle Binswanger sees a salary cut for top politicians as a gesture of solidarity:

“As a country we find ourselves in a situation that demands sacrifices from us all - personal, but also economic. It's hard to imagine how many people in Switzerland these days fear for their livelihood and for everything they have built up. ... To restore what we once knew as normality we will all have to help each other and make sacrifices. That's why now would be a good time for generous gestures. New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has taken the lead. She announced that she would give up 20 percent of her salary for the next six months. That's what I call solidarity.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Prove that you're worth your salaries!

Politicians should focus on their work now instead of relying on symbolic politics, Die Presse believes:

“Members of the government are very much in demand, especially in these times, they have a hard job. But instead of sending out populist signals, they should focus on leading the country through the crisis. They should make sure that their regulations and decrees are based on the rule of law and that their rules are also sensible. All citizens will benefit more from that than from a small gift from the government.”

Lietuvos rytas (LT) /

The powerful only think about themselves

Lithuanian media have revealed that the salaries of Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga's team have been increased by around 1,000 euros during the Corona crisis. Lietuvos rytas is incensed:

“Elsewhere in the world governments are taking hefty cuts to their salaries to show solidarity with their fellow citizens. And our politicians could have easily thought of the doctors, whose salaries have recently been the subject of fierce battles among these suddenly so generous politicians. But while it turns out that the salaries of 'Super minister' Veryga and his people have gone up by a thousand euros, doctors and other less fortunate people are still having to wait for the manna from above.”

Diena (LV) /

Cut the wages of the whole public sector

Diena observes a general imbalance between the wage levels of public servants and those in Latvia's private sector and proposes a permanent reduction in salaries and other public sector expenditures:

“A number of sectors have been paralysed for almost two months and the coming months don't look very rosy either. ... This crisis is the best time to make a frank assessment of whether spending on public administrative structures is worthwhile and, in some cases, whether their existence is even necessary. Not just today, but also in 'peacetime'. A reduction of all expenditures by at least ten percent would be an expression of solidarity between the public and private sectors.”