Ralph Brinkhaus remains parliamentary group leader of the Union until the end of April 2022

Union chancellor candidate Armin Laschet is now threatened with a loss of power in his own ranks after the historic election defeat. With a compromise in the fight for the parliamentary group chairmanship in the Bundestag, the CDU chairman was able to save face on Tuesday. The previous parliamentary group leader Ralph Brinkhaus (CDU) was re-elected – but only for seven months until the end of April and not, as usual, for a whole year. In the parliamentary group, which had shrunk to 196 MPs, he received 164 yes-votes out of 195 votes in the evening, as the FAZ learned.

The CSU had previously put pressure to ensure clarity at the head of the parliamentary group. “The parliamentary group must be able to act,” emphasized the head of the regional group, Alexander Dobrindt. “We want order.” After his election, Brinkhaus emphasized: “We are fully capable of working.” It was also about showing unity. He will endeavor “that after April 30th. to carry on ”.

While the Union was preoccupied with itself after the debacle in the Bundestag election on Sunday, the other parties were already planning explorations. The SPD increased the pressure for a swift government formation. First exploratory talks with the Greens and the FDP could be held this week, according to faction leader Rolf Mützenich. The SPD is ready to “not only hold quick, but also reliable talks”.

“Olaf Scholz has the best chances of becoming Chancellor.”

The Greens and FDP agreed on a first meeting this week. FDP leader Christian Lindner had suggested on the evening of the election that both parties sit down in advance to sound out overlaps in issues that were controversial between them. Green parliamentary group leader Anton Hofreiter emphasized that one would talk to all democratic parties. But it is more likely that “there will be a traffic light in the end”.

The CSU chairman Markus Söder made it clear that he sees the mandate to hold talks about a new federal government with the SPD, the Greens and the FDP. It was the SPD’s turn, he said in Berlin. “Olaf Scholz currently has the best chances of becoming Chancellor.” Söder also congratulated Scholz on his election victory, which Laschet had not done. If a traffic light coalition does not come about, then the Union is ready for talks. “But we will not curry favor,” emphasized Söder.

Combat candidacy averted

Brinkhaus and Dobrindt announced after the parliamentary group meeting, however, “that we are actively registering our willingness to talk”. One will not only give this to the media, but “actively to identify potential exploratory partners,” said Dobrindt.

The CSU leader had originally rejected Laschet’s plan to forego the usual election of the parliamentary group leader in the Bundestag for one year. Both then looked for a compromise that everyone could support in order to prevent a candidate for battle. In addition to the previous parliamentary group leader Ralph Brinkhaus, Jens Spahn, Norbert Röttgen and Friedrich Merz were brought into play for the office.

Laschet, who had to put up with harsh criticism from the Union, had declared that he was going to Berlin “without a return ticket” – even if he did not become Chancellor. Should the Union end up on the opposition bench, the parliamentary group chairmanship would be the only influential position it would have to fill.

CSU regional group leader Dobrindt was confirmed in office by his party’s deputies. He then warned of follow-up errors after the historic election defeat: “One of these follow-up errors would be to avoid or postpone personnel decisions that are necessary.”

Although the Union fell to 24.1 percent, Laschet still hopes to move into the Chancellery with an alliance of the Greens and FDP. However, resistance to this strategy is growing. The SPD with its candidate for Chancellor Olaf Scholz was the strongest force with 25.7 percent and derived from the result a clear electoral mandate to form a government.

If the Greens participate in government, they only want to decide on their line-up after coalition negotiations. Party leader Robert Habeck made it clear before a parliamentary group meeting that “of course at the end of such a process on the content and personnel – the entire tableau – the party would decide on a party congress or a member survey”.

With a result of 14.8 percent, the Greens fell far short of their expectations in the federal elections. Chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock had admitted her own mistakes.

The left in the Bundestag was still waiting with personnel decisions. The chairmen Amira Mohamed Ali and Dietmar Bartsch will initially continue the faction, which has shrunk to 39 members, as they said after the meeting. Decisions should be made by the constituent session of the new Bundestag, which is expected to be on October 26th.

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