Merkel on the future of the CDU: “Only men, that no longer fits in with the times”


Status: 23.10.2021 12:54 p.m.

The CDU is struggling to find the right strategy for the future. Chancellor Merkel urged women to actively apply for office. Health Minister Spahn sees the party in the “greatest crisis in history”, Laschet still disagrees.

While the SPD, Greens and FDP are currently negotiating the formation of a government, the CDU continues to debate the future of the party after the defeat in the federal election. With a view to high party offices, the outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel now urged women to actively apply.

“We must continue to work to make women more confident overall,” said Merkel of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. “Because even if there are some, it’s not like they are wrestling for party leadership, for example.” If you want to be a people’s party, you have to “get close to parity and want it,” said the Chancellor. “I can only encourage women to interfere. Only men, that no longer fits in with the times.”

In the election, in which Merkel had not run after 16 years as head of government, the CDU and CSU had achieved the worst result in their history with 24.1 percent of the votes. As a consequence, the CDU wants to redefine its leadership by the beginning of next year. A special party conference is to re-elect the entire management team, including the federal executive board and the presidium. Health Minister Jens Spahn, ex-Union parliamentary group leader Friedrich Merz and foreign politician Norbert Röttgen are considered possible candidates for the successor to CDU leader Armin Laschet, who had signaled his willingness to withdraw after the election defeat.

Merz: New appointments to the Presidium “considerable part”

In an interview with the “Welt am Sonntag”, Merz now also spoke out in favor of a comprehensive replacement of the CDU presidium. “I see the urgent need to fill a considerable part of the Presidium with new members,” he said when asked whether Baden-Württemberg’s CDU boss Thomas Strobl, Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner and Hesse’s Prime Minister Volker Bouffier should run again. “The CDU has to reposition itself, that includes not only the chairman and the general secretary, but also all other positions,” said Merz. From his point of view, it is also important that the East is represented among the deputy party leaders.

He kept it open whether Merz himself wants to run for the presidium or the chairman’s post. But he rejects double leadership: “Double leadership is always very complicated in politics. I therefore think that’s not a good idea, also with regard to the party leadership.” The CDU has no experience with this, and the experiences of other parties have “not really” been convincing.

Merz, who had already run for office twice without success, rejects a lengthy presentation of the candidates for the CDU chairmanship. “The possible candidates are all well known, we no longer need to let a caravan of several weeks pass through Germany,” he said. Therefore, the process could go quickly, including membership participation. Digital voting is also conceivable. In general, Merz urged them to hurry. “The CDU should be set up again by the end of 2021 and be able to act,” he said.

Spahn: “Desire to shape the new CDU”

Health Minister Spahn described the situation of his party on Deutschlandfunk as the “greatest crisis in the history of the CDU”. With a view to his own role in the future, he said: “I would like to shape the new CDU”. It is an honor for every Christian Democrat to be chairman of the CDU. At the same time, respect demanded to adhere to the agreed procedures and to wait for the CDU district chairman conference planned for the end of next week.

After Angela Merkel’s withdrawal from party leadership two years ago, the open competition for her successor did the CDU good, said Spahn. However, it was not good for the party to have four different party leaders in the past four years. There is currently a broad base need to participate in decision-making. At the same time, there is a need not to have an argument. There must therefore now be a team that brings the party together.

Laschet: Don’t talk about crisis scenarios

On the other hand, CDU leader Laschet warned his party not to talk about crisis scenarios. Talking about the “greatest crisis of the CDU since 1945” does not inspire “any voter at all to re-elect the CDU,” he said at the state party conference of the North Rhine-Westphalia CDU in Bielefeld. Such statements are “complete nonsense”. Rather, the CDU party donation affair in 2000 was in case of doubt a major crisis for the party. “Leave cups in the cupboard, approach things realistically,” demanded the North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister.

Chancellor Merkel for more women in CDU leadership

Anja Günther, ARD Berlin, October 23, 2021 1:27 p.m.

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