Suhl / Berlin (dpa) – Ex-Constitution Protection Chairman Hans-Georg Maaßen has split from the AfD after his freestyle as a Thuringian direct candidate for the Bundestag.
With his reputation and supporters, he wanted to win the votes of the AfD in the September 26 federal election and help defend the CDU chancellery, the 58-year-old said after his election as a direct candidate in the South Thuringian constituency 196. A According to Maaßen, cooperation with the AfD, which has been radicalized, is out of the question. Criticism of his appointment came from the CSU, the Greens, the SPD and the left.
CDU Secretary General Paul Ziemiak said he expected each candidate to be clearly committed to the values and politics of the CDU and to distinguish it sharply from the AfD. “I now assume that Mr. Maaßen will do everything he can to ensure that the CDU can vote together,” Ziemiak told the editorial network Germany (RND). “Hans-Georg Maaßen is a marginal figure on the democratic spectrum with whom most Christian Democrats have little in common,” CDU federal board member Karin Prien told Funke media group newspapers.
Maaßen is politically controversial because of, among other things, his position on the refugee policy of the federal government. He was elected Friday night in Suhl with 86 percent of the vote against a rival candidate by the delegates of four CDU district associations. His South Thuringian constituency is considered sensitive to the CDU after traditional candidate Mark Hauptmann left the CDU in the course of the mask affair.
CSU Secretary-General Markus Blume said the appointment of Maassen was a “difficult signal for the general course of the Union”. However, he stressed that it was a matter for the CDU. “It is all the more important that there is no wobble in the clear delineation of the AfD.” For the CSU, says Blume: “The course of modernity is non-negotiable for the Union.”
The Thuringian-born Green Group leader in the Bundestag, Katrin Göring-Eckardt, wrote on Twitter: “With # Maaßen, the CDU opens its doors to the right.” CDU boss and chancellor candidate Armin Laschet urgently needs to answer the question of whether and how he will show a clear advantage on the other side. Michael Kellner, CEO of the Greens, assessed Maaßen’s staff on Twitter as a signal that the CDU was leaving the center.
The parliamentary manager of the SPD faction, Carsten Schneider, described Maassen as “ideologues and agitators”. With the nomination, the CDU crossed a line to the far right, Schneider, who is from Thuringia, wrote on Twitter. The state SPD also tweeted that the CDU was fishing on the right. “We are sending East German sports legend Frank Ullrich into the race against # Maaßen and not leaving him behind in the constituency,” said the SPD, referring to the former world-class biathlete.
Left Federal Chairman Susanne Hennig-Wellsow told the Funke newspapers, “The firewall on the right is gone.” The democratic parties on this side of the Union must do everything possible now to prevent a Maaßen from being in the next Bundestag, ”said Hennig-Wellsow.
Maaßen announced that he would support the Union candidate for Chancellor, Armin Laschet, in the election campaign. “We stand behind our candidate for chancellor.” The 58-year-old said of his relationship with Laschet: “I don’t think we are that far apart.” Discussion distinguishes a people’s party like the CDU. He wanted the constituency where he took an apartment, “not represented from the back seat.”
“Our claim is that the constituency is not covered by the AfD or the Left,” Schmalkalden-Meiningen CDU district chairman Ralf Liebaug said at the meeting of delegates. He brought Maaßen, who is from North Rhine-Westphalia and lives in Berlin, into the game. Maassen is a good option to ‘preserve the constituency’, said district chairman of Hildburghausen, Christopher Other. The CDU in southern Thuringia is not about sending a political signal towards the AfD. “The incompatibility decision applies,” stressed the 31-year-old.
At the time, as chairman of the Constitutional Protection Office, Maaßen was heavily criticized for doubting that foreigners would be “hunted” after the murder of a German in Chemnitz. In November 2018, Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) temporarily retired him.