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The head of government is keen on renting a house. Is it simplicity or a show?

  In September 2021, the current Italian President Mattarella was found to be renting a house like ordinary people in the capital Rome.
  At that time, in an apartment in the southeast area of ​​the central district of Rome, the female tenant and her boyfriend were waiting for the arrival of the tenant. Before the two moved out, they entrusted a housing agency to find the next tenant. When the inspector arranged by the real estate agent arrived as scheduled, the female tenant opened the door and was stunned: the person standing outside the door turned out to be President Sergio Mattarella and the president’s daughter accompanying him.
  After the president visited the apartment, he immediately signed the rental contract. Before the president left, the female tenant made a request to take a photo with the president, and the president readily agreed.
  Local newspapers published the group photo, along with a photo of the rental contract signed by the president. The apartment that President Mattarella is interested in is only a few steps away from the Italian National Mint. The entire apartment has 3 bedrooms and 2 living rooms, with an area of ​​120 square meters. The decoration style is generous and beautiful, but it has nothing to do with luxury.
  Mattarella, the current president of Italy, was born in a political family in Palermo, the capital of Sicily in southern Italy. He was originally just a law professor at the University of Palermo and never thought of going into politics. But in the 1980s, after his elder brother who served as the chairman of Sicily was assassinated by the Mafia, Mattarella stepped down from the podium and joined the political arena. He successively served as the Italian Minister of Education, Minister of Defense, and Justice of the Constitutional Court. In 2015, Mattarella became the president of Italy and became the head of state. On weekdays, Mattarella is low-key, practical, kind and close to the people. He has repeatedly become the most popular and respected political figure in Italy in previous polls. He will soon face retirement in 2022. Therefore, before he was about to step down as president, he chose his future residence for himself.
  It is not uncommon for heads of state government to live in rented houses. In Germany alone, you can point out several federal chancellors who live in rented houses or simple houses, such as Schmidt, Schroeder, Merkel, and the current Chancellor Schulz. This phenomenon is not only influenced by the local living culture in Germany, it may be a manifestation of the simplicity of the head of government, and it may also contain a political gesture behind it.
  Schmidt served as the German Federal Chancellor in the 1970s. He has made great achievements in politics and has high prestige in the German political arena and among the people. Schmidt was more than 90 years old. After his death, the funeral was extremely grand, which belonged to the level of state funeral. The German flag was flown at half-mast, and the TV station broadcast live. Almost all German politicians attended his funeral, which is extremely rare in Germany. But Schmidt had been living in a street-facing, very ordinary red brick apartment house that can be seen everywhere in Hamburg. One of the cycling routes of the Hamburg Chinese Bicycle Association passed under the window of the old prime minister.
  Similar to Schmidt, Schröder, who was the German Chancellor in the 1990s, also appeared extremely simple in terms of housing. He was divorced three times before becoming prime minister. Every time he divorced, he almost left the house, so that after he became the Federal Chancellor, he was still financially stretched.
  When Schröder was Federal Chancellor, he had just entered his fourth marriage. The German people jokingly called him “Audi Chancellor” and ridiculed that the wedding rings he gave to his four wives were placed together like the famous four-ring logo of German Audi cars. Germany has clear regulations on the travel of the head of state, and travel expenses for official travel are reimbursed; however, family members have to pay for it out of their own pockets when they accompany their families or fly on official planes; they also have to pay for the rental of official cars in their spare time, which is of course expensive. Schroeder has no intention of concealing his shyness. He often takes the train when going out for private affairs, and only chooses to take the second-class cabin; the Prime Minister’s wife even buys vegetables, cooks and does other housework in person. The Schroeders lived so meticulously that they became the talk of the German people at that time after dinner.
  In order to save money, Schroeder enjoys the treatment of the Federal Chancellor on weekdays and commutes in a high-end Mercedes-Benz with a full-time driver; on weekends, he can only drive his old Volkswagen. At that time, the people of Hannover and Berlin had seen such a funny scene: on weekends or leisure days, Schroeder drove his own old Volkswagen in person, and behind his car, he followed the high-end bulletproof car leisurely. Bodyguards sat in high-end bulletproof limousines, watching the prime minister in his old Volkswagen private car embarrassed because he couldn’t find a parking space.
  During Schroeder’s tenure as prime minister, he once invited Zhu Rongji, the then Chinese premier who was visiting Germany, to his home as a guest to show his special friendly feelings towards China. At that time, Schroeder had an ordinary apartment of 80 square meters in Hannover, where his fourth wife lived with their children. When Chinese guests from afar came to the house of the German Chancellor, the room in Schroeder’s house was too small for all the entourage to enter, so only some of them could stay outside. German newspapers at that time published a group photo of the Chinese and German prime ministers at the dining table in that small apartment.
  Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been in office for 16 years, but has always refused to move into the Chancellery.
  Back then, she and her boyfriend, Professor Sauer, lived together in an ordinary residential building before marriage. During the campaign for prime minister, she entered the marriage hall. After becoming Chancellor of Germany, Merkel declined the proposal to move into the Chancellery and still lived in the ordinary apartment facing the street. The only security measure provided by the government is to park a police car in front of the apartment building for 24 hours. Merkel, who prefers environmental protection and loves aerobics, often walks home after get off work, accompanied by only two guards. Sometimes, she also goes to the supermarket to purchase daily necessities and food like ordinary citizens. This is an open “secret” throughout Germany.
  During Merkel’s tenure as chancellor, she advocated the opening of borders between the EU. The opposition believes that this will threaten Germany’s own security and will destroy Germany’s good security environment. They even dug up the burglary at Merkel’s home to illustrate the dangers of opening the border. Only then did the German people learn through the media that the prime minister’s home had also been burglarized.
  The current German Chancellor Schulz has many similarities with Merkel: he lives in an apartment and has no children.
  During the campaign for prime minister, reports that Schultz had been living in a rented home attracted public attention. In the early 1980s, when Schulz was a university student in Hamburg, he actively participated in politics and visited East Germany at the time as a student representative of West Germany. As a poor student at that time, he rented an apartment in an old building. After graduating from university, Schulz successively served as Minister of the Interior of Hamburg, Mayor of Hamburg, Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister of Germany, etc.
  In 2018, Schulz left Hamburg for Berlin, where his wife was then Education Minister of the state of Brandenburg. Their apartment in Berlin is also rented. According to the Hamburg rental housing protection law, the housing cannot be empty for more than 4 months. Therefore, although Schulz works in the Federal Government of Berlin, he still goes back to Hamburg to live on weekends from time to time. The Schulz couple bear the rent of the two residences in Berlin and Hamburg. In 2021, the German “Bild” announced that the annual income of the Schulz couple was 200,000 euros.
  When Schulz was mayor of Hamburg, he still lived in the old apartment building. On two occasions, some disaffected people threw red or black “paint bombs” at the apartment building where he lived. For this reason, the government had to set up a police box in front of the old building. With the rise of Schultz’s position, the security standards are getting higher and higher. Public information on the government website shows that the police box in front of the ordinary apartment building is now guarded 24 hours a day, and 18 police officers are deployed.
  In fact, most governments will provide residences for the heads of government. Germany also has the Federal Chancellery, and several prime ministers choose to live in their own rented apartments. Naturally, they have their own considerations. As for whether it is to live a simple life or to put on a political posture close to the people, it is a matter of opinion.

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