Berlin (dpa) – The top bodies of the CDU are preparing for the election of the new party leader on Saturday this Thursday evening in digital deliberations of the presidium and the board after nearly a year of hanging out.
First (7 p.m.) the closest party leadership around the outgoing chairman Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer will meet in a substitution conference. The larger board of directors therefore meets digitally (8 p.m.). After the meetings, Secretary General Paul Ziemiak will inform the public in the evening (around 9.30 pm).
The online party conference officially kicks off with 1001 delegates on Friday evening (6pm). Speeches from Kramp-Karrenbauer and Ziemiak and greetings from Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), CSU boss Markus Söder and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen are scheduled.
Due to the corona pandemic, only the closest leadership circle around Kramp-Karrenbauer and Ziemiak, the three candidates and technicians will be present in the party conference studio on the Berlin exhibition grounds. National and international guests and journalists are not allowed due to the pandemic. However, the party congress is broadcast entirely via the internet and television. “What is missing is emotionality. Party conferences thrive on the interaction and communication between the speaker and the audience. This is difficult at a digital party conference, ”Chairman Norbert Röttgen told Düsseldorf’s” Rheinische Post “and Bonn’s” General-Anzeiger “(Thursday).
The election of the new party leader is scheduled for Saturday morning. The CDU wants to be the first party in Germany to elect a chairman online. In addition to the foreign politician Röttgen, NRW Prime Minister Armin Laschet and ex-party leader Friedrich Merz are running for elections. It is expected that none of the candidates will achieve the required absolute majority in the first vote and that a second vote will be required immediately thereafter.
Laschet was optimistic shortly before the party congress. “The delegates will know with whom the Union can best win the federal elections,” he told the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger” (Thursday). “That’s why I have faith in Saturday. Approval is growing noticeably. “
To make the “digital pre-selection” legally safe, a letter vote will follow after Saturday. The result should be finalized and announced on January 22. Laschet, Merz and Röttgen have assured that they will accept the results of the online vote. If you lose, you no longer want to vote by mail, which is legally possible. It is therefore expected that the new CDU boss will be announced on Saturday.
After the election of the new chairman, the entire CDU leadership will be re-elected online, with the exception of Secretary-General Ziemiak. In the event of a win, Laschet has announced that he will nominate his team partner, Health Minister Jens Spahn, as one of the five deputy party leaders.
Greetings from European People’s Party (EPP) Chairman Donald Tusk, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Belarusian (Belarus) opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaya are scheduled for Saturday. The party congress ends with a speech by the new chairman.
The solution to the personnel problem following the Kramp-Karrenbauer withdrawal announcement in February has been dragging on since spring 2020 due to the Corona crisis. A special party conference originally scheduled for the end of April and a party conference in December were canceled due to the pandemic in consultation with the successors.
Once the new CDU president is established, the discussion about the right candidate for chancellor in the Union should become even more urgent. “We have to go into the race with the candidate who has the best chance,” said CDU deputy chairman Julia Klöckner of the dpa. She called on her party and the CSU to decide very unanimously on the Union’s candidate for chancellor. “Of course a CDU president has the natural claim that he wants to run for chancellor.” However, she added, “There may be good reasons for a different decision.”
Röttgen also used a similar tone: “If I am elected party chairman, we will meet very quickly and confidentially and, in due course, propose which candidate for the Union parties has the best chances among voters,” he told the voters. “Rheinische Post” and the “General-Anzeiger”. It is not about egos, but about the responsibility of the party leaders for the election victory of the Union.
The CSU boss and Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder has regularly been at the forefront of investigations on this topic in recent months. Söder himself, however, has so far made no public ambitions for the chancellery clear.
The party leaders of the CDU and CSU want to set a timetable for the free choice of the candidate after the CDU Party Congress – a date for such consultations is not yet publicly known. In recent weeks, there have been signs that the Union will not decide on a candidate for chancellor until after the important state elections on March 14 in Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate.