Berlin (dpa) – After clarifying its open leadership question, the CDU is ramping up the pace ahead of the federal election in September.
The newly elected governing bodies mandated Secretary General Paul Ziemiak to “prepare a joint process for a government program” with CSU Secretary General Markus Blume, as new CDU Chairman Armin Laschet announced. “We want to very quickly lay the substantive basis for how we will enter this election campaign with the CSU,” he said after online consultation by the presidium and the party’s board.
Laschet made it clear once again that he wants to include the former leader of the Union, Friedrich Merz, who lost in the presidential election: “I appreciate him, I appreciate his advice, and he will find his place.” Following Laschet’s narrow second-round victory on Jan. 16, the party feared a split in the CDU could come due to disappointed Merz fans. Those would be unfavorable conditions for the 2021 super election year.
When asked if Merz, as an economic expert, could be part of a shadow cabinet for the Sept. 26 federal election, Laschet replied, “Shadow cabinets are currently unavailable.” The Union still has no candidate for chancellor. The CDU will look for it together with the CSU. At the party congress, he offered Merz one of the most important positions the CDU had to offer, which was to be a member of the presidium, Laschet said. “Unfortunately Friedrich Merz could not make use of it.” He made this offer to Merz because it was supported by much of the party in the second round.
Laschet said he was pleased that Norbert Röttgen, the creator of foreign policy, had joined the presidium. “I look forward to a good cooperation with Norbert Röttgen.” Like Laschet, Röttgen, from North Rhine-Westphalia, was eliminated in the first vote for party chairman with respectable success. He told the editorial network in Germany that the good cooperation between Laschet and himself had already started.
Secretary-General Ziemiak said in response to reports of numerous party withdrawals following Merz’s defeat, there have been 350 newcomers and 250 exits at the federal level since the party congress. The number of exits is within the average range – that of newcomers is above normal. In this regard, the balance is positive. But he couldn’t say for sure what the ward associations were like. Looking ahead to 2020, Ziemiak spoke of a successful year in terms of membership. There were nearly 16,000 newcomers – more than since 2009. In total, the CDU currently has nearly 400,000 members.
In view of the joint election program with the CSU, Laschet said, “We want to tell citizens as soon as possible what our concept will be after the pandemic and the consequences of the pandemic.” There will be major economic problems, major budget problems and social and cultural problems. However, the program must be thoroughly elaborated. Many developments, especially in connection with the corona pandemic, cannot yet be foreseen. Therefore, a government program should be “presented as soon as possible before the elections”.