CDU and CSU: New harmony after the disaster year

To analyse

Status: 03.02.2022 7:42 p.m

For the Union, 2021 was a disaster. The image of harmony with the CDU should therefore stick to the CSU state group retreat. Accordingly, the focus was on the alpha animals Merz and Söder.

An analysis by Anja Günther, ARD capital studio

There hasn’t been so much expressly emphasized harmony between the CDU and CSU for a long time. But wasn’t there something, this – from the point of view of the Union – cursed year 2021?

Anja Gunther
ARD Capital Studio

CSU boss Markus Söder and the then CDU chairman Armin Laschet argued about the Union chancellor candidacy. And when Laschet was finally a candidate for chancellor, Söder continued to publicly hand out vigorously.

Hard to imagine that this is forgotten and forgiven. But the best thing to do is not to talk about it at all, the newly appointed CDU federal chairman Friedrich Merz seems to say to himself. And so he and Söder are in a good mood on the second day of the exam in the press gallery, placed left and right by the host, the chairman of the CSU state group in the Bundestag, Alexander Dobrindt.

The terms harmony, collegiality and friendship are mentioned several times. “We left the whole of 2021 behind us, that’s history. We don’t talk about that anymore,” asserts Merz. Söder adds: “We have had a difficult year in 2021, with many many weaknesses and mistakes. And we have learned from them.”

“Powerplay opposite the traffic light”

Have the CDU and CSU actually swept the whole mess together? Despite demonstratively lived harmony: behind the scenes there should be quite a grumbling in the CSU: in 2023 there are state elections in Bavaria. In surveys, however, things are looking bad for the CSU: 36 percent are in the current BR-BayernTrend. What the union in the federal government would be happy about – for the CSU in Bavaria this is an alarm signal.

Söder’s sympathy values ​​as Bavarian Prime Minister are falling. Moreover, the name of the new strong man in the Union is Friedrich Merz. As chairman of the larger of the two sister parties, the CDU. And as the designated head of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group. When Merz then says in the direction of Söder that he expects “a trusting and good cooperation” and that the Union must “assume its state-political responsibility” even in the opposition, it almost sounds a bit like a threat.

So really good friends? It probably boils down to a community of reason between the self-confident party leaders. Important state elections are already coming up this year: in Saarland, Schleswig-Holstein, North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony.

Alexander Dobrindt summarizes the work assignment as follows: “Our team line-up is called team play and power play. Team play between the CDU and CSU. And power play opposite the traffic light.”

The motto attack absolutely internalized

In any case, the CSU switched to attack pretty quickly. She can do that – attack her own sister party. But also attack against the federal government. In any case, Dobrindt gives the traffic light coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP a bad interim report. “The traffic light government combines three big Us: disagreement, unreliability and inaction,” he says.

In general, Dobrindt: He seems to have completely internalized the motto Attack, almost like in the past as CSU General Secretary from 2009 to 2013. Dobrindt is apparently a fan of alliteration. In addition to the accusation of disagreement, unreliability and inaction towards the federal government, “opposition equals opportunity” for him. He says the country expects “leadership instead of a mirage” and names the three current major crises: “Prices, Putin, the pandemic.”

Merz takes a dig at Söder

Which in turn prompts Söder to ask what Chancellor Olaf Scholz is actually doing. “We’re really a bit surprised. You’ve seen different chancellors, with different temperaments. But such an absence …” Söder even goes so far as to claim that this is the only K-question that he and Merz are currently dealing with.

Merz, on the other hand, speaks very well about the topic of candidacy for chancellor. In 2021, the Union had clarified the K question far too late. “It must never be this late and this bad again,” he warns. “We all made the decisions for the ’21 election campaign too late. If you want to conduct good election campaigns today, you need a long lead time.”

A dig at Söder too. Which shows that two people meet here who are rhetorically at eye level. In order to work through the mistakes from 2021 and learn the right lessons, Merz can imagine forming a so-called “Union Council”. This should be preceded by a joint presidency meeting of the CDU and CSU this year. “Of course at the invitation of the CDU,” as Merz emphasizes, for which Söder thanks him.

Union back on the road to victory?

Reappraisal and departure, that is the timetable of the CDU and CSU. Aufbruch 2022 is also the name of the 15-page position paper that the CSU state group passed after two days: on foreign and security policy, on health, pensions, mobility, migration, the economy, finance. social

The CSU wants to work for tax relief for families and medium-sized companies, among other things, abolish the EEG levy, return to the debt brake, pay intensive care workers an immediate bonus. At this annual meeting, however, the resolution papers are less important in the end. The image that should obviously stick is that of absolute harmony between the CDU and CSU, between Merz and Söder.

In the end, there could be two things that bind these two alpha animals together: the attack on their common political opponent, the traffic light government. And her unconditional will to lead the Union back to winning ways in the 2025 federal elections.

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