Union crisis at Illner and Lanz: "We are all part of the problem"

Union Chancellor candidate Laschet is sticking to the goal of a Jamaica coalition, if necessary without him. A party congress should initiate the renewal of the CDU in terms of content and personnel. In the ZDF talk shows with Maybrit Illner and Markus Lanz, politicians evaluate Laschet’s latest statements.

The bomb burst at half past six on Thursday evening. Union Chancellor candidate Armin Laschet appeared in front of the press. The Union is still available for talks to form a government coalition, he said. At the same time he indicated that Jamaica could exist without him as Chancellor. “The great Jamaica project will not fail because of the person,” he said.

In addition, said Laschet, the Union must initiate a staff and content renewal. The party must make a fresh start with new personalities, whether in the government or in the opposition. Late on Thursday evening, politicians from the Union, Greens and FDP at Maybrit Illner and Markus Lanz rated Laschet’s announcements on ZDF.

“No vacuum in the CDU”

“There is no vacuum in the CDU”, Union politician Friedrich Merz assures Maybrit Illner. Armin Laschet is chairman and candidate for chancellor and is available as a contact person. The CDU has made many mistakes, but they are not only to be found in the person of Laschet, says the politician. The errors reached back to the end of October 2018, when the party accepted that the party chairmanship and the Federal Chancellor should no longer be in one hand. “That was the strategic mistake, it wasn’t good for us; otherwise we would not have lost the election.” That was when the leadership crisis began, which the Union has not yet resolved.

Merz also gives CSU boss Markus Söder complicity in the poor union election result. When asked about his critical stance on Laschet, he says: “60 percent of the electorate saw the Union as divided, and divided parties are not elected.”

At the same time, Merz criticized the way Laschet was positioned as candidate for chancellor. Laschet was “enforced by the establishment of the CDU,” he says and adds: “With such decisions we have suffered massive electoral defeats, we have to change that now.”

“Convince with unity”

Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier from the CDU is also looking to the future. Altmaier at Markus Lanz: “Every successor who is elected must ensure that we regain the trust that we have lost.” The Union lost voters because it did not have answers to questions that interested the voters. This included pension and social policy, according to Altmaier. “We want to become the people’s party in the middle again; to do this, we have to reform our content.” The entire CDU must bear this responsibility. “We are all part of the problem,” says Altmaier.

The chairman of the CDU Hamburg, Christoph Ploß, also criticized the division in the Union. “What worries me at the moment is that some in the CDU are attacking each other,” he says at Markus Lanz. The CDU must be perceived as a cohesive team again. “You can only convince the voters with unity and the ability to work in a team.”

What Ploß means becomes clear when Peter Altmaier is asked by moderator Markus Lanz how loyal he was to the candidate for chancellor. After all, Altmaier originally supported Markus Söder’s candidacy for chancellor. Altmaier explains that he said at all election rallies that Laschet was a candidate for the Union and that they wanted him to become Chancellor. But Lanz wants to know whether he said something friendly. There is a long pause. Then the answer: “I think this is the wrong debate. I answered the questions people asked me.”

“There is something new”

Meanwhile, the SPD, Greens and FDP have agreed on further exploratory talks to form a traffic light coalition. Juso chairwoman Jessica Rosenthal praises the conversations so far: There is something new, she says at Maybrit Illner. They are now mainly talking about content. One of the most important goals is that the Paris climate agreement is complied with. “We also want something from our earth.”

Green politician Cem Özdemir also speaks at Maybrit Illner that the new government should work with each other instead of against each other. It used to be the case that one ministry blocked the decisions of another. That has to change now.

“Exciting for Germany”

FDP foreign politician Alexander Graf Lambsdorff finally points out that something fundamental has already changed. With Markus Lanz he explains when there could be possible Jamaica talks: “We will talk to the Union if we and the Greens think it makes sense.” There are no longer any major parties in Germany. “We have a different party system.” Now liberals and greens would have to negotiate with each other, who would be perceived as the renewal parties. “That is exciting for Germany.”

It is also exciting that very small changes at the CDU seem to be on the horizon. You can read that from the sentence of the evening, which one or the other viewer might have acknowledged with a slightly ironic grin. It reads: “I would like to see that in future we will write the three letters CDU a little larger than the three letters IC H.” Said it, of all people – Friedrich Merz.