Stuttgart / Mainz (dpa) – Under the new leadership of Armin Laschet, the CDU is heading for the state elections in Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate on March 14. The two state associations want to decide on their election program at digital party conferences on Saturday.
In Stuttgart, the newly elected CDU chief Armin Laschet is personally expected – he will give a speech exactly there where Friedrich Merz always had a particularly large number of followers. Delegates in both countries are hoping for a tailwind from the federal party.
Both party conferences must take place digitally. Only 50 people are expected in the Stuttgart Wagenhallen, which actually hosts more than 2,000 guests – everyone must undergo a quick corona test before entering the hall. “It’s a bit like being in a spaceship,” said Thomas Strobl, the head of state of Baden-Württemberg and the federal representative of the CDU, about not speaking to hundreds of people this time, but only to dozens of screens and cameras.
The traditionally conservative Southwest CDU provided the head of government in Baden-Württemberg for decades. Since 2016, the CDU has ruled as a junior partner in a coalition with the Greens led by Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann. With top candidate Susanne Eisenmann (CDU), who is also fighting for open schools in the Corona crisis as minister of education, the CDU wants to regain its old strength.
The southwestern CDU is considered the stronghold of the “Fans of Friedrich” – the top of the association openly spoke out for Merz in the fight for the federal presidency of the CDU. Last week, Laschet was elected with a lead of 55 votes – the final result of the round shows how divided the party still is.
Laschet told the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” (online): “Many party friends in Baden-Württemberg supported me, otherwise the election result would not have been possible. Susanne Eisenmann, the very dedicated top candidate of the CDU in Baden-Württemberg, pointed out that we learn from our state election campaign in North Rhine-Westphalia in 2017. “He wanted to support their efforts. “A strong CDU was and is good for Baden-Württemberg.”
In Baden-Württemberg, they hope for one thing, especially from Laschet with a view to 14 March: tailwind. “Laschet brings people together. He will be able to address those who did not vote for him, ”said head of state Strobl. He works integrally towards the center and can support and stabilize the state CDU for the next seven weeks. Strobl emphasized that not only Merz but also Laschet had economic competence: “Laschet is an industrial politician who successfully leads an industrial country with a lot of know-how for medium-sized businesses and crafts.”
In Rhineland-Palatinate, too, the Christian Democrats hope for an impulse from Berlin, and there too, after three decades in opposition, the CDU wants to take over the political formation in the country again. That is why they call the election program that the approximately 70 participants in the program committee will decide on Saturday (from 10:00 am), the “government program”.
The decision of the CDU Rheinland-Pfalz to lead its small party congress – officially the assembly is called the program committee – from a studio in Wiesbaden, and thus in neighboring Hesse, caused a stir in state politics. State president Julia Klöckner, top candidate Christian Baldauf and Secretary General Gerd Schreiner meet there in the morning. The 70 participants in the meeting are connected in a video conference.
Schreiner justified the choice of the studio outside Rhineland-Palatinate with economic considerations: the party must use the resources entrusted to it sparingly. The decision of the SPD in Rhineland-Palatinate quickly turned the location issue into a political issue. “That is almost unpatriotic behavior,” said SPD State Chairman Roger Lewentz. There were plenty of organizers in Rhineland-Palatinate who would have been happy with the order in the Corona crisis. At the same time as the CDU Rheinland-Pfalz, the SPD is organizing a program party conference – in a former factory building in Mainz.