The CDU holds the congress to choose its new leader among three male candidates

  • The main candidate, the historic rival of Merkel Friedrich Merz, is committed to giving a conservative turn to the party to recover voters captured by the far right

  • The Christian Democratic formation has pending to designate its candidate for the chancellery, but the election will not be until March or April

A few hours before the start of the digital congress from which the new president of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU)One thing is clear: a man will succeed Annegret Kramp-Karrembauer, the one chosen by Angela Merkel as successor and who has been unable in the little more than a year that he has been leading the party to lead the CDU or to bring together its different tendencies .

Not only the new christian democratic president it will be a man. So will the candidate for chancery of the CDU-CSU alliance for the next elections federal plans for September this year. In the absence of clearing up the doubts about the names of both positions, the remasculinization of leadership in German conservatism is a fact.

There are three men who present their candidacy for the presidency of the CDU in the digital congress -because of the pandemic- that starts this Friday and that will culminate on Saturday with the communication of the winner -preliminary, in the absence of confirmation of the vote through the letters of the 1,001 delegates-: Armin Laschet, the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia; Friedrich Merz, Merkel’s historic rival and a lawyer from the world of finance; and Norbert Röttgen, former Federal Minister for the Environment and current Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Bundestag.

Continuism, conservative or ‘outsider’ turn

The first, which has the express support of Jens Spahn -current Federal Minister of Health and a key figure in the management of the pandemic- is committed to the continuity of the Merkelian political heritage; the second, who left the political career in 2002 after losing precisely with Merkel a pulse for the leadership of the parliamentary group of the CDU-CSU, wants to give a conservative turn in search of ex-voters who gave themselves up to the extreme right of Alternative for Germany (AfD); and the third is considered a outsider who presents himself as president “acceptable” for the different factions of the party.

Why is Merkel’s current succession process dominated by men and, above all, why a profile as conservative as Merz has so many followers in the ranks of the Christian Democratic ranks? “In the CDU there is a certain internal nostalgia for a party with a much clearer profile than it now has,” he replied. Herfried Münkler, Emeritus Political Scientist at Humboldt University Berlin and one of the most authoritative voices in Germany when it comes to analyzing the chancellor’s legacy. “Merkel came to the conclusion that parties with a very clear program are not capable of exceeding 30% of the vote. This led her to the strategic decision to place the CDU at the center of the political table to steal issues from the political parties. Social Democrats of the SPD and also the Greens. And that has hurt certain sectors of their party “, continues Münkler.

That nostalgia for the game lost after the departure of Helmut Kohl, added to the sudden entry of the AfD into the Bundestag with 12.6% of the votes in the 2017 federal elections, has led to the gates of the CDU presidency Merz, a figure harshly criticized by the NGO Lobby Control for its role in defending the interests of German big business and who has sparked public controversy over statements on immigration policy or homosexuality.

Asked in an interview with the newspaper picture On the possibility of a gay chancellor, Merz said the sexual orientation of a chancellor candidate is irrelevant as long as it is “within the law and does not affect children.” This relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia was criticized, among many others, by the Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn, who is homosexual and who media such as the weekly Spiegel considered as a possible candidate of the CDU-CSU to the chancellery.

The ‘K Question’

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No matter how the CDU congress ends, one X of the political equation of German conservatism will continue to be cleared: that of the name that will be presented as chancellor candidate the Christian Democrats and their Bavarian Social Christian brothers from the CSU. Both parties plan to resolve the so-called ‘K Question’ no earlier than March or April.

Two will be the main tasks that the new Christian Democratic president and the candidate for chancellor of the CDU-CSU will have to solve: to unite all the factions of the German conservatism under the same umbrella and get closer to 40% of the votes. The latter is presented as a titanic mission without Merkel, the main electoral guarantee for the last 15 years in Germany, who will definitively say goodbye to political life in 2021.


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