A headless CDU prepares to regenerate in opposition

  • German conservatism is going through one of the worst crises in its history and is trying to reorganize itself to face a phase out of power that does not bode well after 16 years of ‘Merkelism’

Just six months ago few in the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) could have imagined that the party would be doomed to the opposition and headless at the end of 2021. The plan was clear then: the one chosen by the German conservatism to succeed Angela Merkel at the head of the Chancellery was called Armin Laschet, a centrist, pro-European, Catholic and moderate with a disposition to agree with both the Greens and with the liberals of the FDP to form a coalition government. Today all that is history. The German conservatism goes through one of the worst crises in its history and tries to reorganize itself to face a phase in the opposition that does not look easy after 16 years of merkelism.

Helge Braun is a politician close to Merkel, acting head of the Federal Chancellery and one of the three candidates who aspires to succeed Laschet in the presidency of the CDU. When asked last Wednesday to show a photo to illustrate his candidacy during the first internal debate of the race for the Christian Democratic presidency, Braun showed an image of the electoral celebrations of 2013, when his party was still capable of obtaining more than 40% of the votes.

In the federal elections last September 26, the CDU was second force with just over 24%, the worst result of the party’s history. More than his candidacy for the Christian Democratic presidency, the image chosen by Braun illustrates the state of melancholy and nostalgia for the better times in which he lives installed today. German conservatism.

internal consultation

As of this Saturday, the 400,000 affiliates from CDU they will be able to vote for one of the three candidates for the party’s presidency. In addition to Braun, two old acquaintances are introduced: Norbert Röttgen, Christian Democrat deputy specialized in foreign policy, and Friedrich Merz, representative of the right wing of the CDU and historical enemy of the outgoing chancellor. Both Röttgen and Merz already tried last year to take over the presidency of the CDU, but failed against Laschet. Now that the latter is defeated, they return to the charge.

The final decision on the future leadership of the main German conserved party should arrive in a digital congress on the 21st and 22nd of next January. A thousand delegates will have to listen to the speeches of the three candidates and vote accordingly. By then, Germany will be ruling the first traffic light coalition at the federal level in the history of the country. That Christian Democratic congress will therefore have to decide what orientation the first party of the German parliamentary opposition will take.

In search of diversity

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The tone in the Bell for the presidency of the German Christian Democracy is, for the moment, personable and constructive. Once it is assumed that the party must go to the opposition after 16 years of uninterrupted rule, the three candidates are committed to a team tone and to diversify the visible faces of the party, among which there should be more women and more people with migratory roots. .

The rejuvenation It is, however, a pending task in the dome of the CDU: Braun is 49, Röttgen, 56 and Merz, 66. While other parties such as The Greens and the Liberals of the FDP, with clearly younger leaders, have managed to win the support of the majority of new voters, the Conservatives lost nothing less than 14 points among the youngest voters in the last federal election. The CDU is today above all a party of older people, a bad premise to build an alternative from the opposition to be able to one day lead the German federal government again – without Merkel.

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