Naughty or nice? How Santa decides which politicians get Christmas gifts – POLITICO

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Guess who’s back?

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas — but this job gets tougher as the years go by: long hours, no breaks and the pay is terrible (milk and cookies! Who gets paid in food these days?). 

But someone’s gotta do it — these presents won’t magically deliver themselves on Christmas Eve!

And it’s not just children who get gifts, the world’s politicians do too — at least the ones I deem to have been nice over the previous year.

Speaking of politicians, I’ve kept a close eye on the COP28 negotiations in Dubai, as (between you and me) I’m quite thankful for climate change. Do you have any idea how cold it gets up there in the sky in December as I fly around in my sleigh? The reindeer keep threatening to go on strike if I don’t install some kind of heating system. At least now, the night winter winds are a bit warmer.

I know the youngsters are all up in arms about the planet warming, but I am an old man and I have my opinions #sorrynotsorry. (Did I do that right? Mrs. Claus taught me about hashtags, so I thought I’d try using them.)

Right — now it’s time to go through my list of leaders and see if they deserve a gift for Christmas. I don’t check the list twice, by the way, that’s just what the song says.

Up first is an easy decision …. Vladimir from Russia.

That’s a no-fly zone if I’ve ever seen one. And not because I’m worried about missiles — human technology can’t detect me — it’s that the roofs in Red Square have always been too pointy for me. I’m not a fan of wars either, they just don’t seem like a good idea. And then there’s the whole Yeygeny Prigozhin business, very messy.

So no presents for Vladimir this Christmas — either from me or my Russian cousin, Ded Moroz. Like last Christmas and the one before that.

Next on the list is Volodymyr. Surprised he didn’t ask for a new sweater — but actually his list simply asks for a good night’s sleep. You and me both, pal! You’re on the nice list.

Next is Olaf from Germany. I know a snowman by that name, so I guess you can say I have a soft spot for Olaf, and that’s probably why he makes it onto the nice list.

Olaf Scholz made it onto Santa’s nice list | Michele Tantussi/Getty Images

So let’s give Olaf what he wants … money. He really needs cash to fix the massive hole in the German government’s budget.

It’s usually around this point in the evening that I head south for warmth, and Greece is always a good option.

Kyriakos can make the nice list, I suppose, as he didn’t really ask for much: just some old marbles back. Seems fair enough to me. I won’t steal them for him though — I’m Santa, not a criminal! — so I can only offer moral support.

Let’s see, who’s next? Now, this is an interesting one. 

Giorgia from Italy asked for a book. The Italian prime minister wants a copy of “Uno, nessuno, centomila” by Luigi Pirandello. That’s a good read about the idea that everyone has multiple personalities. I guess she wants to learn more about how to present different faces to different people — good luck remembering who you really are after that!

I just hope she’ll understand this book, she seemed a bit confused about the meaning of the Tolkien novel she asked for a few years ago.

Let’s cross the Alps. Manu’s next.

Cheeky fellow, that French leader. I never know where to put him, is he naughty or nice? Tough one.

And he’s asked for a friendship bracelet, to give to Viktor in Hungary. He seems to have a liking for bad boys, does Emmanuel. The friendship bracelet he gave to Vladimir in Russia didn’t work out so well. Good on him for not giving up though.

I’ve got to get to Brussels now, to someone who lives in her office. Ursula, I think she’s called. I’m very bad with names. 

She’s asked for something strange: a stuffed wolf. Not just any wolf, but a rather specific Canis lupus known as GW950m. I think he’s still alive, so that feels a bit unethical. Let’s skip that request.

My final stop in Europe is the United Kingdom where Boris wants a toy bus.

Boris and Rishi want a toy bus for Christmas | Creative Commons via Wikimedia

I don’t think the ones he builds himself are particularly good, so perhaps he needs a model to learn from. But then again, does he ever follow instructions?

While it’s good to see he learned to say sorry out loud, that won’t fix all the messes he’s made. He’s still on my naughty list — so forget the bus, mate. Perhaps next year.

And guess what Rishi has asked for? Also a toy bus.

What are the chances? I wonder if he needs to study a way to send immigrants to other countries by land now that his Rwanda plan is looking uncertain.

Phew, that was exhausting. I need to look into hiring a helper. Even members of the European Parliament get assistants. And MEPs hardly do any work.

I’m off to the other side of the Atlantic, where loads of random requests have come. Someone called Donald wants a year’s supply of orange foundation as a present. But I’ll let you guess which list I’ve put him on.

Merry Christmas!

Santa Claus was speaking to POLITICO’s Giulia Poloni.

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