CSU retreat: state group on profile search | tagesschau.de

To analyse

Status: 02/02/2022 04:21 a.m

The CSU state group in the Bundestag comes together for its winter retreat. Although it has gained weight within the Union faction, it lacks effectiveness. It’s about redefining your own role.

By Hans-Joachim Vieweger, ARD Capital Studio Berlin

Pictures from a snowy Upper Bavarian landscape used to be the special attraction of CSU exams. Be it in the legendary Wildbad Kreuth, be it most recently in the Seeon monastery. Due to the pandemic, the CSU members of the Bundestag are meeting in Berlin for their winter retreat this time. Mainly to define her new role.

Hans Joachim Vieweger
ARD Capital Studio

In terms of personnel, things are actually looking quite good for the CSU: since they were able to win almost all direct mandates in the federal elections, they have 45 MPs in the Bundestag, just one fewer than after the 2017 election thus even gained weight – and in the parliamentary group a few more posts. But no government posts. Rather, opposition is announced.

Get out of the opposition as soon as possible

If Alexander Dobrindt, the chairman of the CSU state group in the Bundestag, has his way, the time in opposition should be as short as possible. It does make a difference whether you govern or not, says Dobrindt. Nevertheless, when it comes to opposition, Dobrindt does not first think of the sentence that Franz Müntefering once coined: “Opposition is rubbish”.

Rather, Dobrindt thinks of the English word “opportunity”: He wants to highlight the possibilities that are now available. “We are the critical accompaniment of the federal government – constructive but critical,” he says. “That means we are not the claqueurs, but the controllers of a traffic light government, and it is our job to show that there are better concepts.”

Civic corrective to the traffic light

Dobrindt imagines the Union’s role in the opposition as the bourgeois corrective to traffic lights. That sounds easy, but it is associated with special challenges, says political scientist Ursula Münch.

The director of the Academy for Political Education in Tutzing sees a double challenge for the CSU: On the one hand, the party must come to terms with the fact that public attention is less with the opposition and more with the government. On the other hand, the CSU must position itself against the CDU within the Union.

The CSU and Friedrich Merz

The election of Friedrich Merz as the new CDU chairman and his grab for the chairmanship of the joint parliamentary group also had an impact on the CSU, says Münch. On the one hand, the CSU could also benefit from a new unity and a strong appearance by the new CDU chairman. Ultimately, the lack of unity and the lack of clear statements would have led to the election defeat of the Union.

If Merz, who is coming to the closed meeting tomorrow, can make a name for himself, the CSU believes that this also has a disadvantage: the importance of the CSU could decrease if all eyes are now on the new opposition leader Merz. Political scientist Münch is convinced that he already has his sights set on the next candidacy for chancellor.

Powerless in the federal government, powerful in Bavaria?

There is also the problem for the CSU that, as the opposition party in Berlin, it can no longer do as much for Bavaria. “Power in the federal government, combined with independence in the Free State,” is how Münch describes the CSU’s long-term recipe for success. One that doesn’t seem like it at first.

For the promotion of transport projects and other investments, the CSU chairman and Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder now needs the support of ministers in the traffic light government from the SPD, Greens and FDP.

The chance to sharpen your own profile

The advantage of the opposition role: After the years of the grand coalition, which many disliked, the Union can now work on its own program again. Pure CSU, so to speak, without having to make compromises with a government partner.

Regional group head Dobrindt is striving for the Union to initiate major debates again in the Bundestag about the pure handling of crises. “About freedom, performance and justice,” says Dobrindt. “The big issues that connect our country.” According to Dobrindt, this is the only way to overcome one or the other tendency towards division that exists.

The upcoming electoral law reform and the CSU

A substantive profiling is necessary for the party, especially with a view to the upcoming state elections in autumn 2023. According to polls, the current Bavarian state government made up of CSU and Free Voters would not have a majority. The CSU came in BR Bayern Trend most recently to 36 percent.

But even the CSU regional group in the Bundestag, no matter how strong the staff, is threatened with hardship. A reform of electoral law, which is intended to prevent the Bundestag from ever growing, could start with the number of direct mandates – and thus exactly where the CSU has its strengths.

According to the political scientist Münch, the CSU failed to help shape the electoral law reform itself due to its blocking attitude in the past legislative period; now the coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP could decide on such a reform against the CSU – with the result that the party would probably be represented with fewer MPs in the Bundestag in the coming elections.

CSU state group meets for the retreat

Vera Wolfskämpf, ARD Berlin, 1.2.2022 · 23:25


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