Status: 01.12.2021 9:52 p.m.
For those who were undecided in the CDU, the appearance of the three presidency candidates was of no help: similarities rather than differences became apparent. But the direction was amazing – and who had a say and who didn’t.
The first hour of the digital discussion competition between the three candidates is almost over when the first tender disagreement between them at around 6:58 p.m. is about educational federalism, which Norbert Röttgen had just criticized and which calls for a clear stance in the CDU. That finally lures his opponent Friedrich Merz out of the reserve: “With all due respect, I don’t think we can overcome educational federalism” – that needs a two-thirds majority and takes too much strength.
When it comes to climate protection, the two politicians, who have been applying for the CDU chairmanship for the second time (Röttgen) or even for the third time (Merz) since Merkel’s retirement from the party leadership, are setting different accents – but only in nuances, nothing more. Röttgen wants the CDU to become the “most competent climate protection party” that combines market economy, technology, social acceptance and foreign policy competence.
Merz wants that too, just not painted that green and laid out more internationally, because you can’t achieve so much nationally and potentially disappoint. Helge Braun, the third in the group and who was still acting head of the Chancellery, entered the competition late as a surprise candidate a few weeks ago, wants that too – with a focus on hydrogen technology.
Become more modern – just how?
Otherwise, the audience will experience a lot in common on this evening, not only on European and foreign policy issues. All three applicants speak of a “turning point” after the Merkel era. They virtually unite the message that the CDU must become more modern and find answers to the issues of the day. All three emphasize the team spirit that should now move into the new party leadership, all deny the question of a double leadership: that does not fit the party.
Braun and Röttgen want to promote dialogues and discussions between the wings of the party. Merz has nothing against this either, but emphasizes a little more what he intends to do as chairman: for example, also visit constituencies to persuade women to run for office, also at the price of annoying individual men there.
Christian image of man, each of the three candidates has a clever answer here that addresses Christians, people of different faith and non-believers alike. Until the end, Braun, Merz and Röttgen keep the line of wanting to address the center of the party, not its margins.
Kristin Schwietzer, ARD Berlin, on the struggle for the CDU party chairmanship and the differences between the candidates
tagesschau24 5:00 p.m., 1.12.2021
What is striking is who has a say
The direction of this CDU event is striking: in these one and a half hours, the questioners are represented in the inverse proportion to their representation in the party: many younger women have their say and citizens with a migration background. They all actually put their fingers in the wounds of the party, which no longer scores with the under-30s and women voters.
Older men were more likely to arrive late. But not an older entrepreneur who gossips about Merkel’s economic policy and finally demands more freedom for the economy – like the media-powerful inner-party support group around the Economic Council, who always drum loyally for Friedrich Merz. There was no one among those questioning who would even begin to think that the CDU had to become more conservative or more German-national – as Hans-Georg Maaßen, for example, had done before the federal election.
The metamorphosis of Friedrich Merz
On this evening, the metamorphosis of Friedrich Merz appears surprising, who for his circumstances almost “feminized” himself and once even speaks of “voters”. Likewise for the women’s quota, if nothing else helps.
Röttgen is most critical of the party: it needs a new beginning and renewal, one has to be able to connect again (younger people, women). Interested women would too often come across a society of older men at the party base who were “self-sufficient” – and would never come back. The party needs new target group formats that do not serve as a deterrent.
Maybe after this evening it won’t be much easier for undecided CDU members with so much togetherness. But it was kind of an honest event that said a lot about the state of the party. Be it on the topic of women, on the topic of migration background or how party congresses are perceived: The CDU must become interesting again, real discussions should take place at party congresses instead of exhausting themselves in the “execution of rituals”, says Röttgen – “no normal person comes there, just to applaud. “