New party leadership: Who are the strong people in the Merz CDU

As of: 01/31/2022 6:16 p.m

Social and at the same time close to business, diverse and young, but also conservative: the new team led by CDU boss Merz has the will to involve everyone. Can this work?

By Kristin Schwietzer, ARD Capital Studio

Now it’s official: Friedrich Merz is the new CDU boss. Basis, party congress, postal vote – Merz comes to the Adenauerhaus with an enormous tailwind. But how powerful is his team? At least it promises more variety than some thought. Many young women have also risen to the top of the party with the support of the Junge Union.

Kristin Marie Schweitzer
ARD Capital Studio

Above all Ronja Kemer. The preferred candidate of the Young Union, as a competitor to former Merkel confidant and chairwoman of the Women’s Union, Annette Widmann-Mauz. For the youth of the party, this was a strategic move that, from their point of view, worked out. In general, the CDU leadership has probably never been so young. At least that promises renewal.

Others have to go to the reserve bench first. Julia Kloeckner and Jens Spahn were sent home, as former ministers of the Merkel government, with moderate to poor results. But she also wants to have Merz in his team. As well as Karen Prien. Schleswig-Holstein’s Minister of Education is known for taking a stance against the grain from time to time or for demanding a clear edge on the subject of Maaßen, for example. Merz wants to involve everyone, the CDU should remain the people’s party. The goal of the new party leader is ambitious. For this he needs support from his “inner circle” and trust.

The new strong man next to Merz

For the content accents, the new strong man is called next to Merz Carsten Linnemann. Linnemann is considered a proven economic expert. He will be the chief coordinator for the program – a task that should suit the former head of the association of small and medium-sized enterprises. Linnemann wants to bring Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer’s so-called listening tour to an end and provide answers. That means basic work for him. A lot of things will be rolled out again. The postponed vote on the women’s quota is just a foretaste of this. Critics of the quota now hope that it will be collected again. At least the debate about it is revived again.

Linnemann gets a prominent position in the Merz team with the work on the program. He can revive the heart of the CDU. Merz entrusts Linnemann with what is probably the most important task. The new CDU leader will need this trust above all if he soon also becomes the leader of the parliamentary group. For Linnemann, in addition to the new Secretary General Czaja, that means more legroom, but also more responsibility in the Adenauerhaus.

Linnemann becomes chief coordinator for the new party program.

Image: dpa

Reconciliation with the workers’ wing

general secretary Mario Czaja probably has the most difficult task at the moment. He comes from the CDA, the workers’ wing of the party. There is also a strategic consideration behind this. The social wing of the party felt neglected for a long time and was concerned under Merz that the future of the CDU could become too conservative, too close to business. That could change with Czaja, but he also needs the absolute trust of the boss for that. He has to redefine the role of the general secretary in the CDU, above all because the programmatic part is mainly served by Linnemann. It was different under Paul Ziemiak.

Czaja is also a CDU man who, through his experiences, his GDR biography, sees the relationship with the Left Party differently. Under certain conditions, Czaja is even open to cooperation at the municipal level. That might not appeal to everyone in the party. For him, the relationship with Linnemann will be decisive. Above all, it requires loyalty and a clear division of tasks.

As general secretary, Czaja is also supposed to involve the workers’ wing of the party.

Image: EPA

vote for the east

If the CDU wants to remain the people’s party, it must appeal to employers and employees alike, as well as the eastern associations. The grassroots in the East often feel that the party leadership does not take them with them. The AfD is particularly strong here. how to deal with it This poses a challenge for some CDU representatives, especially in municipalities with difficult majorities. Michael Kretschmer, the Prime Minister of Saxony, but also Czaja himself should above all be a voice for the East.

The new Merz team has the will to involve everyone. Merz will sometimes have to jump over his shadow so that the CDU doesn’t get out of hand. Involve the supporters of Merkel’s policy, do not disappoint the conservatives, raise the profile, win back old voters and attract young voters. To do this, the new CDU boss must prove that he is not only able to have a clear edge, but also to moderate.

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