The CDU is looking for its soul and a new president

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Party members now have the floor. They will have to decide from Saturday, 05/12 in a first, and later probably second round, which of the three candidates will succeed the unfortunate Armin Lasset, the current president and candidate for chancellor, who in the recent parliamentary elections failed to win. lead the party to victory. Of course, the most dominant of the three will have to go through the “suffering” of the party delegates, next January.

On Wednesday, Friedrich Mertz, Norbert Retgen and outgoing Chancellor Helge Brown, who was entering the party arena, were completing their in-party election campaign, answering questions for 90 minutes at the Adriatic’s Baus. Invited to the room were 25 well-chosen party members, younger than the average age of over 60 years. The coordinator of the evening gave the floor to more women than to the male participants, while the names Angela Merkel and Armin Lasset were heard very little in the discussion in questions. Signs of the new times that the party wants to adopt.

Political culture

Discussions focused on climate policy and new energy sources, pensions and housing policy, education issues, Germany’s role in the world and relations with China. At the beginning of the event, and for a relatively long time, the discussion revolved around the difficult situation within the Christian Democratic Party. Officially it was a militant claim to party leadership, but very often phrases of consensus were heard, such as “otherwise I agree with what you said before”. Very rarely was there a real disagreement. All three, who have known each other for a long time, spoke in the singular with each other and with the first name.

For Friedrich Mertz, who is also the oldest, 66 years old, this is the third time after 2018 and 2020 that he is trying to claim the presidency and represents the financial establishment in the conservative wing of the CDU. One would say normal after 12 years as a senior executive in the service of the free economy, which he left, to return to the parliamentary seats after the parliamentary elections last September. In opinion polls among party members, something like a favorite is considered.

This role seems to be given by voters of all parties to Norbert Retgen, 56, who is running for a second term. Former Minister of Environment emphasizes the need for deep renewal of the party and puts the weight in terms of programmatic goal in climate policy. The presentation of his candidacy was very personal with a family photo from the 18th birthday of Judith’s daughter. “Photography shows that there is life outside of politics,” he said, “happiness in the family is, among other things, a source of strength to work in politics.”

Helge Brown presented a photo from the 2013 elections with young CDU members cheering after Merkel’s historic 41.5% turnout in the parliamentary elections. “The Christian Democratic Party will have to use the time in the opposition to renew itself, so I will do my best, and then there will be photos, like the one in 2013,” he said. Brown is considered an underdog, but no one ever knows. Mertz also showed a photo from the “CDU group”, as he calls it, with the two candidates for the positions of general secretary with his deputy.

Europe, China, AfD

On the main issue of Merkel’s party renewal after 16 years, Rγκtgen stressed that “this is not the end” and that it was time for a “new beginning”, calling for his reunion with all groups. Rγκtgen is considered the one who has criticized the situation in the party most sharply. On this, Mertz said that the CDU must become modern and conquer the issues of the time. Brown argued that the party needed a president who had the ability to “let others shine next to him”, meaning himself. In terms of content, Rτtgen dominated climate change issues. As for China, on the other hand, Mertz took over, choosing his words clearly. “The Silk Road project is not an economic project, but an imperial political project. China has a strategy for Europe, but Europe does not have one for China.” Otherwise, Europe has played a minor role in the debate. Friedrich Mertz was more concise in his response to the line against the xenophobic populist AfD party. “I am in favor of an uncompromising rejection of cooperation with him, whoever acts differently from the party will be severely affected.” It was also the most spectacular setting of the night.

What are the next steps? The almost 400,000 members of the party have the opportunity from Saturday, 05/12 to 16/12 to cast their first ballot, by letter and online. From 12/29 to 12/01/22 follows the second round, which seems to be necessary, since there is no clear favorite. And whoever wins will be elected at the CDU party congress on January 21 and 22. A first hope of the party leadership has already been fulfilled. The conference will not take place in Hanover in the form of a major event. “Because of the epidemiological situation it can not be done otherwise,” Secretary-General Paul Tsimiak told Phoenix. And so Armin Lassett’s successor will emerge at an online party conference by online voting. The result will be confirmed by a letter vote.

Christoph Strak, dpa

Edited by: Irini Anastassopoulou

Source: Deutsche Welle

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Source From: Capital

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