After the debacle in the federal election, the CDU is to be reorganized. So far, however, neither the candidates nor the mode have been finally clarified. One thing is certain, however: the process should not divide the party any further.
CDU General Secretary Paul Ziemiak wants to discuss ways out of the crisis with the members of his party in the coming weeks after the historic election defeat of the Union. “We want to start a profound reappraisal as a basis for the renewal of our People’s Party,” said Ziemiak of the German Press Agency. The election result was a turning point for the CDU. “It’s about our future as a people’s party.”
“I will discuss the reasons for the election result together with federations and associations,” said Ziemiak. In the coming weeks, his main focus will be on listening. “I would like to bundle opinions, analyzes and suggestions for the comprehensive reappraisal process from within the party.” There will also be cooperation with think tanks “in order to provide the necessary external impetus for the processing process,” emphasized the Secretary General.
The requests to speak from the various regional associations show that there is a need to speak. After the announcement by CDU leader Armin Laschet about the reorganization of the party leadership, the Hamburg state chairman Christoph Ploß called on possible applicants for the successor to be reluctant. “I also warn against the fact that anyone who is interested can now simply quickly declare their candidacy,” said Ploß to the editorial network in Germany (RND).
“We have to make sure that we form a strong team that is made up of our different currents.” According to Ploß, this includes people like Jens Spahn, Carsten Linnemann, but also Friedrich Merz. But it is still too early to say who should do it. “It is important that the transition is regulated and that there is no broken court,” said the member of the Bundestag.
Not a back room deal
There are similar voices from North Rhine-Westphalia. The general secretary of the CDU-NRW, Josef Hovenjürgen, has warned his party against fighting out the Laschet successor on the open stage. Hovenjürgen told the “Rheinische Post”: “I hope that the moderated process in North Rhine-Westphalia can be repeated in the federal government. I consider such a managed transition with a joint proposal with broad participation of the Union to be a desirable path.”
He strongly warned against an unmoderated power struggle, said Hovenjürgen. “That would take up too much of the Union. It therefore also requires the ability to compromise on the part of those who are now being discussed. And it must be possible again to talk to one another in confidence.” In the end, unfortunately, one had to get the impression that many had placed their ego above the well-being of the party, said the Secretary General. “We saw that last in the exploratory talks.”
Meanwhile, several prominent Christian Democrats have spoken out in favor of involving the grassroots in the decision on Laschet’s successor. The MP Friedrich Merz said on ZDF: “I think it’s right that we are talking about membership participation.” He left it open whether he would seek the presidency himself. Merz ruled out a third candidate for a fight.
The CDU foreign politician Norbert Röttgen, who is considered a possible candidate for the Laschet successor, warned of a backroom deal about the future CDU boss. “Any attempt to prevent fair competition for the future of the CDU and to steer the repositioning from above is not suitable for establishing new trust,” he told “Welt am Sonntag”. “Now the base has to have its say as quickly as possible.”
The CDU member representative Henning Otte argues similarly. “Overall, it is important to strengthen the opportunities to participate in decision-making processes within the party so that the CDU is also attractive to new and above all young people,” said the member of the Bundestag of the German press agency. “The election campaign revealed many structural deficits,” admitted Otte. “There has to be a realignment of the party. The aim is for the party to find its soul and inner center again.”
“CDU must be saved from the ultimate ordeal”
He will work out a concept for this with the member representatives of the regional associations and organizations. With a view to the renewal of the CDU’s staff, Otte said: “Now it is a matter of finding a personality behind whom the vast majority of the approximately 400,000 members of the CDU can gather and who makes a political claim to realignment.” He added: “The CDU must be protected from an acid test and quickly brought together again.”
Union parliamentary group vice Carsten Linnemann pleaded for a non-binding member survey – in the end, however, a federal party congress would have to decide on the leadership position, said Linnemann in the ntv “early start”. The MP described Laschet’s willingness to withdraw from the party leadership as “correct”: “That was also brutal – even in human terms, it was no longer bearable, the pressure there was.” The Saarland Prime Minister Tobias Hans told the “Rheinische Post” that the Union must now “quickly set the course together and in consensus with our base at a party congress”.
Laschet wants to propose to the top CDU committees a party congress this Monday to reorganize their staff. The Union Chancellor candidate had announced that he wanted to moderate this process. Laschet is planning talks with the CDU state chairman in the coming weeks. It will be about which profile the candidate for the presidency should have, he said on Thursday. Possible candidates for Laschet’s successor in the office of party leader include Health Minister Spahn, the foreign expert Röttgen, economic expert Merz and parliamentary group leader Ralph Brinkhaus. In November Laschet wants to convene an “Eastern Conference”, which will deal with the special structural issues of the eastern federal states. The aim is to push the right-wing populists back from the AfD as their biggest political opponent. A district chairperson’s conference is to follow in December.