Berlin (dpa) – North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister Armin Laschet is the new CDU president. He ruled Saturday at the digital federal party conference in the second vote against former Union party leader Friedrich Merz.
Laschet received 521 of the 991 votes cast and Merz 466. The third candidate to succeed Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer at the helm of the CDU, the foreign politician Norbert Röttgen, was eliminated in the first vote.
Laschet said after his election that he would do everything he could to ensure that the CDU successfully passes the upcoming state elections and that after the federal election, “the Union will appoint the next chancellor”.
In the first round, Merz received 385 votes, Laschet 380 and Röttgen 224. The result of the online vote must now be formally confirmed by letter to be legally secure.
Laschet had highlighted his experience as head of government in his application speech, which was at times emotional. “You have to master the tools of a middle-class politics profession,” he said. The 59-year-old was referring to negotiations to cut down coal or to fight crime in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Laschet paid tribute to the services of Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU). The Chancellor’s reputation can be summed up in one word: trust. The CDU will not be elected for past achievements. What is needed is a “decade of modernization”. Laschet stressed, “The CDU must become a think tank and a place for discussion again.” The party is not a one-man show. The whole breadth of society is no longer reflected in the party, Laschet said. “The CDU and Germany I envision don’t need a CEO or Chairman, but a team captain who leads and brings us together.”
Laschet received support from Health Minister Jens Spahn in the question and answer session of the delegates. Laschet and he would run as a team, it needed a private party. Laschet living cohesion. He had led a quarter of the Germans through the pandemic forcefully and cautiously, Spahn said – but he didn’t question the candidates.
Laschet did not comment on the issue of the Union’s candidacy for chancellor. Merz, on the other hand, indirectly claimed this for himself in the event of his election victory. His claim is “leadership of this party, but also leadership of our country,” said the 65-year-old in his introductory speech. “As German Christian Democrats, we are determined to lead this next German federal government again.”
At the same time, Merz made it clear that he can envision a black-green federal government. He referred to the black-green coalition in Hesse led by Volker Bouffier (CDU) and said: “Something like that works. And that is not only possible if you yourself are particularly green. It works especially well and it works better if you bring your own beliefs, your own opinions and your own locations to such a coalition. ‘
Merz called on the CDU to instill courage and confidence in people in Germany in view of the corona pandemic. Germany is a very innovative country. “We can do research and development,” said Merz, noting the development of a vaccine against the coronavirus in Germany. Merz emphasized that there is a way out of the corona crisis. At the same time, he drew a sharp dividing line with the AfD: events like the one in Thuringia, where FDP politician Thomas Kemmerich was elected Prime Minister with the votes of the CDU and AfD last February, would not take place under his leadership.
Röttgen, who lost on the first vote, campaigned for a renewal of the CDU. The party must once again be the place where future issues are discussed and answers are found, he said in his application speech. “It’s really about one thing: future skills.” Only when it changes will the CDU remain a people’s party. You have to become more feminine and younger and just as digital as at the party conference. “People’s party and the party of the middle must always be new.” He dares to win new voters for the CDU.
Due to the corona crisis, the CDU election party conference took place digitally for the first time. In Germany there have already been digital party conferences, for example with the Greens and the CSU, but no elections have taken place there. After the election of the new chairman, the entire CDU leadership must be re-elected online, with the exception of Secretary General Paul Ziemiak.
Due to the corona pandemic, only the closest leadership circle around Kramp-Karrenbauer and Ziemiak was present in the party conference studio on the Berlin exhibition grounds, as well as the applicants for the presidency. Guests and journalists were not allowed to come because of the pandemic.