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How much influence do the super rich have? | DW Documentary

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What does it mean for democracy when rich citizens can change an entire city? Do the interests of big donors always serve the common good? This film delves into the world of the super-rich and takes a hard look at how much influence they exert.

In Kiel, a dispute has flared up over the Holstein stadium. Soccer patron Gerhard Lütje, founder of the CITTI trading company, wants to modernize the stadium -- and turn it into a car-friendly business center at the same time. Critics find this approach environmentally unsustainable. But they are being ignored, they say. Kiel's mayor Ulf Kämpfer (SPD) is in a tight spot: He must negotiate without scaring off financial backers.

The film team meets billionaire Klaus-Michael Kühne, one of Germany's richest men, at his luxury hotel on Hamburg’s Alster. The 85-year-old donates generously: He supports the HSV soccer club, runs a university in Hamburg's HafenCity, wants to build an opera house and is a sponsor of the Elbphilharmonie concert hall. But Kühne does not pay any tax in Germany. That’s because his official residence is Switzerland. "It's a well-known fact that the state can't do business properly," says Kühne, who believes he can distribute his money better himself.

Lidl founder Dieter Schwarz donated a gigantic education campus to the city of Heilbronn. Still, does that mean that the interests of big donors always serve the common good? No, says the daughter of a rich family involved in the "Taxmenow" initiative: Around 50 millionaires are demanding that they finally be taxed fairly.

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