The CDU wants to re-elect all of its leaders at a party congress. The question remains, however, when and how the members will be involved. The only thing that is certain is that the base will be asked beforehand what it wants.
In its reorientation after the federal elections, the CDU is relying on a clear cut: the party base is to be more closely involved in the election of a new chairman, and the entire board is re-elected, although the current top started just nine months ago. The General Secretary Paul Ziemiak reported after the meetings of the top committees that there was a unanimous opinion in the Presidium and the Federal Executive Board that a new legitimation was necessary. The tension was great, but most of the questions remain unanswered. Above all: Who will lead the CDU into the future?
Party leader Armin Laschet does not show himself after the committee meetings, he lets his general secretary speak “in the usual way”, as he says. Demonstrative routine in the deep crisis after the historic election failure. Nothing is like it used to be. Ziemiak’s position will soon also be up for grabs; he will be responsible for the election campaign.
It has been decided that the district chairpersons will discuss at a conference on October 30th whether the chairperson question will be clarified in a member survey. The final decisions are to be made by the party leadership on November 2nd, including those on the date of the federal party congress at which it will be re-elected.
Time for member surveys would be short
For the membership survey, which is especially wanted by younger party members, it could be tight, the SPD needed about half a year. But time is of the essence, three state elections are due in the spring. Ziemiak is calm here. For example, the introductory phase of the candidates can be kept short and the number of their events small. The Secretary General refers to digital formats – he personally considers a “too long procedure not expedient”. Many called for as close a procedure as possible, says Ziemiak. The turn of the year is clear as a time window. A member survey would not be binding, but it is impossible for a party congress to ignore it.
By the turn of the year it should not only be clear whether the SPD, Greens and SPD can agree on a traffic light coalition, but also whether the power struggle in the Union will continue. The big question now is whether Laschet will manage to send a consensus candidate into the race as his successor. At the meetings, the desire for a team solution was expressed, says Ziemiak. But: “In the end, anyone can run if they meet the requirements.”
Although Laschet had announced his withdrawal, there is still a threat of a candidate for a fight. In the next few days, the party leader wanted to “put an ear to the track,” said Ziemiak, among other things in the regional associations. The newly elected member of the Bundestag, Friedrich Merz, had suggested that he would run again if the grassroots wanted it.
No piercing during meetings
After all, Laschet had his shop so much under control that day that, unlike in the past, nothing from the meetings leaked to the public. This time, too, there was certainly a tough fight. When asked by a journalist whether Laschet’s apology to party members was appropriate, Ziemiak replied that he understood the frustration and anger that existed. The fact that some campaigned incredibly enthusiastically and still did not win a direct mandate “hurts, hurts, sorry”. That “everyone in the Union shares”.
“You cannot go back to the agenda after such a result,” affirmed the Secretary General. Everything should now be on the table, a commission to analyze the election campaign and results, both with the constituency winners and losers. External people in the form of think tanks should also help with the content reorganization. A separate Eastern Conference is planned for East Germany, where the CDU did particularly badly.
The Christian Democrats still do not want to slam the door to a Jamaica coalition. But who should the Greens and FDP turn to if the traffic lights fail? Ziemiak smiles: They know Armin Laschet’s cell phone number.