Armin Laschet resigns, but first the outgoing CDU leader would like to determine his successor at a party congress and moderate the way there himself. There is opposition to this: Friedrich Merz aggressively offers his help and brings a member survey into play.
Former Union parliamentary group leader Friedrich Merz praises the CDU chairman’s plan to withdraw, but he does not want to leave the search for a successor to Armin Laschet alone. Laschet “deserves respect, thanks and great recognition,” says Merz on Twitter, because he has cleared the way for a new beginning. “I will do my best to find an amicable way to do this, which will also find the approval of our members.” Literally Merz wrote: “Armin #Laschet paves the way for the new beginning of the #CDU today.”
According to his own statements, the former Union faction leader has not yet decided whether he will run again for the CDU party chairmanship. However, he ruled out a renewed candidacy for a ballot at a federal party congress at “Maybrit Illner”. “Whether or not I am running again for the party chairmanship is a question that I have not finally dealt with,” said Merz. “I rule out one thing: I will not go into a controversial vote at a federal party congress again.” Merz had recently run for chairmanship twice at CDU federal party conventions and was twice defeated – first in 2018 against Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, then against Armin Laschet at the beginning of this year.
He welcomed, said Merz on ZDF, that CDU boss Laschet is striving for a consensus-based solution in the reorganization of the CDU. “The question of how we include the base – our 400,000 members – in this decision is an open question,” said Merz. He thinks it is right “that we are talking about membership participation”.
“Transparent, fast, with the involvement of the members”
A week ago Merz had indicated that he only wanted to apply for the party chairmanship a third time if there was a member survey or basic election this time. “I applied twice for the party chairmanship, each time with the support of an overwhelming majority of the CDU members, who are still unbroken. Nevertheless, the party conference decided twice differently,” Merz told the Funke newspapers last Friday. “My need for contentious votes against the establishment has been met.”
The Hamburg CDU state chairman Christoph Ploß also welcomed Laschet’s announcement to withdraw from the party leadership. Like Merz, he also spoke out in favor of a member survey. “I pay tribute to Armin Laschet’s decision. It deserves recognition and thanks. It is important that the process for the new start is now transparent, quick and with the involvement of the members,” said Ploß of the Düsseldorf “Rheinische Post”.
Shortly before, the hapless CDU chairman had made it clear that he was willing to renounce the party chairmanship and announced a “new start in terms of personnel”. “It will not fail because of the person,” said Laschet in the evening in a short-term statement. “It’s not about the person Armin Laschet.” In the coming week he will propose to the party committees to convene a party congress on the “future of personnel and reorganization”. “We will set the place and date together,” said Laschet.
The aim is “a consensus of all who are currently being considered,” he said. “I will moderate this process,” he announced. “We will quickly tackle the reorganization of the CDU from the chairman to the presidium and into the federal executive board.” The aim is to reconcile opposites and to come to a common ground and “that we make a fresh start with new personalities”. Laschet did not mention the names of possible successor candidates. In addition to Merz, there are Health Minister Jens Spahn, foreign affairs expert Norbert Röttgen and parliamentary group leader Ralph Brinkhaus. At the same time, Laschet made a clear plea for a party congress to be decided. “This is the place where the 1001 delegates from all district associations can express themselves.”