Renewal of the party: how it should go on with the CDU

Status: 10/13/2021 4:20 a.m.

New party leadership, different content, more base: the CDU wants to change after the election failure. But the way there is confusing. What is actually being discussed? And who could play which role? An overview.

the initial situation

The CDU is in a crisis after the devastating result in the federal election. With 24.1 percent, the Union achieved the worst result in its history. After Angela Merkel’s 16 years as Chancellor, a renewal of the party in terms of content and personnel is inevitable for many.

CDU boss Armin Laschet signaled last week that he would be ready to withdraw – but he wants to moderate the transition process himself. Also because he sees himself in the role of a politician who can bring people together – as recently in North Rhine-Westphalia. The idea of ​​the party colleagues behind it is: The Union should not sink into a power struggle, which may result in a split in the party. In addition, Laschet is thus keeping the theoretical option of the Jamaica Alliance open for the party – even if it currently seems unrealistic. Paul Ziemiak made in the daily topics clearly that Laschet should lead the negotiations in such a case – but at the same time he ruled out that Laschet would later remain chairman.

The unrest in the Union has not diminished recently. The Federal Executive Board’s schedule, which has now been presented, does not change anything in this regard. A crucial question – and therefore also a problem for the party – is who should initiate the generation change? Those who have positioned themselves so far may stand for a different, but not necessarily a new course for the CDU. And even a new party leader does not mean a reformed party. The Saarland CDU Prime Minister Tobias Hans speaks of a “new sound” that the party now needs.

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The renewal

It is decided that the party leadership should be re-elected. But what that can look like in concrete terms is an important detail in the debate. Several CDU politicians – especially the younger generation – had voted for one in the past few days Member survey made strong. A survey is possible according to the CDU statute, but it has no binding effect on the party congress – and would take time. The result would then have to be taken into account by the approximately 1,000 delegates.

According to the decision of the board of directors, a conference of district chairmen will be convened first. On October 30, the more than 300 district chairmen of the CDU are to discuss how the grassroots can be better integrated. On November 2nd, the federal executive committee will decide on a member survey – and the date of the federal party congress. By the beginning of 2022, a special party conference is to have decided on the successor to Laschet.

Even Regional conferences could be an issue again. These introductory rounds were already organized when the party was looking for a chair in 2018 – in the end, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was elected chairwoman at the party conference in Hamburg. That alone should probably not be enough for the basis.

The women in the party also want to be represented more strongly. The Frauen Union announced its own conference. And the previous vice-chairman of the Union parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Nadine Schön, told the “Rheinische Post”: “We have had too few women in parliament and party for years. We have to get more.” In fact, so far only men have been publicly named as successors.

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Who could become what

The names that are most frequently used at the moment when it comes to a renewal are usually anything but new. example Friedrich Merz: The former Union faction leader has so far not ruled out that he will run again for the CDU party chairmanship. Merz is considered a leader, especially in conservative party circles. It failed in 2018 and 2021 at party congresses against Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Armin Laschet. Merz should have a chance especially in a member survey. However: He is 65 years old – and therefore does not exactly represent a generation change.

That connects him with the foreign politician Norbert Röttgen. At 56, Röttgen does not stand for a new beginning either; he was Environment Minister under Angela Merkel (“Muttis Klügster”). Within the CDU, he is considered to be less well networked – but that could also speak for him again. Röttgen has also failed as a party leader candidate, and he too has spoken out in favor of a member survey.

Jens Spahn is also again considered a possible candidate for the party chairmanship. The 41-year-old competed against Kramp-Karrenbauer and Merz in 2018. When Laschet’s candidacy for the chairmanship, Spahn was part of the team. In the corona pandemic, the minister was not always flawless, and in the election as CDU deputy chief he got the worst result. Nevertheless, he is considered a man of the future in the party – and a modern conservative.

Economic politician Carsten Linnemann (44) is considered ambitious and talented. As head of the Mittelstandsvereinigung (MIT), he also has a very influential association in the CDU behind him. Also the name of Ralph Brinkhaus always falls when it comes to central functions in the party. Brinkhaus recently strengthened the parliamentary group again. After the general election, he was re-elected as chairman of the Union parliamentary group with 85 percent of the vote – but only until the end of April. He accepted it – for the sake of party peace, as he said.

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Also the Prime Minister of Saxony Michael Kretschmer could play a stronger role. He is 46 years old, and the Eastern CDU associations are demanding more attention and grassroots participation anyway. However, the CDU in Saxony achieved a poor result in the federal election.

Another has already canceled: Schleswig-Holstein’s Prime Minister Daniel Günther (48) does not want to run for chairmanship. “I’m happy to help with the reorganization of the federal government, but not in the front line,” he told the “world”.

The consequences so far

Last Saturday, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Peter Altmaier surprisingly announced that they wanted to give up their parliamentary mandate. This cleared the way for the successors Nadine Schön (38) and Markus Uhl (41). Kramp-Karrenbauer and Altmaier are close and long-term confidants of Merkel – they declared their move with a signal of renewal.

Even the outgoing Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble no longer wants to play a leading role in his party. “He is not available for a candidacy for the federal executive committee of his party,” said a spokesman for Schäuble for the Funke media group. However, he wants to exercise his mandate as a member of parliament for the “full electoral period”.