Berlin (dpa) – Following the election of Armin Laschet as new chairman, the CDU is fighting for unity in the face of the 2021 super election year.
If possible, she also wants to involve the losing applicants Friedrich Merz and Norbert Röttgen as closely as possible. While Röttgen was elected presidium and thus integrated into the closest party leadership, Merz caused unrest in the party: he surprisingly offered Laschet to join the current federal government and take over the Ministry of Economic Affairs from Peter Altmaier (CDU ). Chancellor Angela Merkel immediately declined the move. Leading politicians of the Union called for Merz not to be done without.
NRW Prime Minister Laschet was elected on Saturday to succeed Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who resigned after only about two years. At the purely digital federal party conference, the 59-year-old won former party leader Merz by 521 votes to 466 votes. Laschet received 52.6 percent of the votes cast, including abstentions, Merz 47.0 percent. CDU foreign politician Röttgen was eliminated in the first vote. The result of the online vote must be formally confirmed by letter to be legally secure. Only the name Laschet appears on the ballot of the 1001 delegates. The results will be announced next Friday (January 22).
With the election of the party chairman, the CDU ended a nearly a year-long stalemate after Kramp-Karrenbauer announced in February 2020 that he would not be running for the CDU chair again. It remains to be seen who will lead the Union as a candidate for chancellor in the federal election. Laschet remained unremarkable.
The new party leader appealed to the CDU after his election to unity – especially in view of the federal election on September 26. “Everyone will be against us, the SPD, the Greens and the Left.” The AfD comes aggressively from the other side. “And the FDP will not have the primary goal of getting the next chancellor back from the CDU,” said Laschet. “That’s why we must unite against them all now.”
Laschet made it clear that he wants to involve Merz in the party. They had appreciated each other for years. He had agreed to meet with Merz to think “what his contribution to our party might look like,” said the new party leader. “It’s an important personality to us. And regardless of the people, we now have to work even more intensively on the subjects that he writes in our studbook.
According to his own statements, Laschet had already been informed by Merz of his interest in the position of Minister of Economy at this point. He only offered him a place in the presidency, he said of ARD and ZDF. The offer to join the new party leadership remains. “There are no other problems at the moment.” Immediately after the Merz initiative became public, a government spokesman said, “The Chancellor is not planning a government reshuffle.”
CSU chief Markus Söder also said everyone agreed “we don’t need change”. In the ZDF “heute journal” he also stressed that he would fundamentally wish Merz to “stay in the team”. CDU Deputy Chairman Julia Klöckner called it an “important signal of unity to the party” that Laschet Merz wanted to include. “It is also a signal of unity if Friedrich Merz stays on board, contributing his skills,” she told the Funke media group newspapers. Unlike Röttgen, Merz had refused to run for the presidium.
Volker Bouffier (806 yes votes), Julia Klöckner (787), Silvia Breher (777), Thomas Strobl (670) and Jens Spahn (589) were elected deputy chairmen. The Minister of Health goes to the circle. Before the election of the chairman, he had used a question and answer session with the three candidates for a publicity speech for Laschet. This was partially accused of unsportsmanlike conduct in the party. Laschet and Spahn see themselves as a team. Spahn apologized on Twitter on Sunday: «« I can see in retrospect: it wasn’t the right format. I regret that. “
Merkel congratulated Laschet on Twitter for the election and wrote, “I look forward to our collaboration.” Kramp-Karrenbauer called for unity: “And now everyone together for our Union and our country.” Söder explained in Nuremberg: “I’m pretty sure that Armin Laschet and I will find a joint, intelligent and coherent solution to any further questions that arise.” He did not directly address the candidate for chancellor. Laschet said on ZDF, “We will find a candidate for chancellor together in April.”
Laschet had mentioned his experience as a head of government in his sometimes emotional application speech. “You have to master the tools of a middle-class politics profession,” he said. He was referring to the coal-reduction negotiations or the fight against crime in North Rhine-Westphalia. Laschet called for a “decade of modernization” and stressed, “The CDU must once again become a think tank and a place for discussion.” The party is not a one-man show, he emphasized.
Merz indirectly claimed candidacy for chancellor in his application speech in the event of his election as party leader. His claim is “leadership of this party, but also leadership of our country,” said the 65-year-old. Röttgen, who lost on the first vote, campaigned for a renewal of the CDU. The party must again be the place where questions about the future are discussed and answers are found.
Laschet also congratulated the political competition. SPD leader Saskia Esken wished the best of luck in merging the CDU. “In the coalition, dealing with Corona is a challenge that no further competition between the Conservatives can tolerate.” The chairman of the FDP, Christian Lindner, recalled the good cooperation earlier in North Rhine-Westphalia. Green bosses Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck stated, “We look forward to an exciting political contest on what force will bring our country out of the crisis with courage, determination and renewed vigor into this decisive decade.”
Left chairman Katja Kipping was much more critical: “With Laschet, the CDU now has a new party chairman, but certainly not a candidate for chancellor. Regardless of who wins the run for the CDU Chancellor’s candidacy, the CDU will not be ready to chart the course so we can get out of the crisis fairly. The Federal Chairman of the AfD Jörg Meuthen wrote in a message: “Bad news for Germany: now it continues to respond!”