And Mr Söder, are you sure? There is only a small nod as the CSU boss walks with Julia Klöckner past the gas meter in Berlin-Schöneberg into the brick building, for the union’s first round of exploration with the FDP. There are more than 20 black limousines parked here, which is a show of force alone, but in the Union, the question is whether a 15-man negotiating team is really effective. “That’s ridiculous,” says a CDU man.
On this Sunday of Political Speed Dating – 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM: SPD/FDP; 6-8pm: SPD/Greens and 6:30pm-9pm Union/FDP – it’s also about Armin Laschet’s future. That hangs like a shadow over these efforts to forge another Jamaican alliance with him as chancellor. As if to demonstrate new harmony, CDU General Paul Ziemiak and CSU General Markus Blume come together. Laschet is one of the last to arrive, getting out of the limousine with the head of his North Rhine-Westphalian State Chancellery, Nathanel Liminski. The Prime Minister of Saxony-Anhalt, Reiner Haseloff, comes straight from the celebrations for the Day of German Unity in Halle, he is optimistic about the goal: “After German unity, everything can be fine.”
CSU General Blume emphasized in the conversation that confidentiality had been agreed: “That was a good evening, a good start that left you wanting more”. And yes, the CSU also wants Jamaica. With the FDP there are the smallest substantive differences, Tuesday the Union will speak with the Greens – a decision must be made quickly whether to negotiate more concretely about Jamaica or the traffic light.
FDP General Volker Wissing sees the Union as the fewest cliffs, but does not want to comment on the state of the Union. He presents the conversation much more soberly than CDU Secretary General Paul Ziemiak, who emphasizes that there is a lot of personal trust and incredibly large similarities. It is clear that something new needs to be created, with new approaches. “As a Union, we are ready to take on this responsibility.”
Many crossroads, however, power struggles in the CDU
But the union is not currently promoting a departure with a Chancellor Laschet. He was allowed to look into the abyss again this weekend. Those who put him on the board of the CDU chairman and candidate for chancellor, in anticipation of lucrative ministerial posts in the next federal government, are stabbing him in the back. First Friedrich Merz, now even his previous tandem partner, whom he has chosen as CDU Vice-Chairman: Jens Spahn.
Both of you, as well as other influential CDU politicians such as Carsten Linnemann, are giving up his allegiance – and are already negotiating the procedure for the election of a new CDU chief. He clings to the prospect of saving himself as chancellor in a Jamaican coalition. But that becomes less likely every day as he continues to lose his authority. Where the CSU first knocked him down with Markus Söder at the top and Olaf Scholz proclaiming the likely next Chancellor, there is now a rapid erosion of support in the CDU. This is not a promotion to win the FDP and the Greens.
And so it was first exploratory conversation between the CDU/CSU and the FDP already before the start under an unfavorable star. Even according to trade union politicians, it is currently only partially open for discussion. In the first polls after the election, the Union fell to 20 to 21 percent and the SPD to 28 percent. According to the ZDF Politbarometer, only 24 percent want a Jamaica alliance and 13 percent want Laschet as chancellor.
It is true that there are mind games that Jamaica with Chancellor Markus Söder could become an option if traffic light negotiations failed. That would be constitutionally possible, but Söder never ran for election – so the Green Base’s opinion, which should be questioned at the end, should not be underestimated.
Also Merz Norbert Rottgen describe in great clarity in the Tagesspiegel interview how deep the Union’s problems run, how it has lost its sense of concern, because of sheer personal independence, which now continues after Election Day.
[Das komplette Interview lesen Sie bei Tagesspiegel Plus: Röttgen rechnet mit Laschet ab: „Es reicht nicht, nur eine Person auszuwechseln“]
Merz wrote in an email to his supporters in the Sauerland: “Without a strong and if necessary conflict-prone political leadership” the CDU could not get out of this crisis.
It’s not hard to see who Merz considers fit for such a task. But since he was already ranting against the party establishment when he was defeated by Laschet in his bid to win the party presidency they wanted him to be, he changed his mind: he, like Norbert Röttgen, is now campaigning for a membership survey. Röttgen has already won the CDU state presidency in North Rhine-Westphalia – against Armin Laschet. Both would have better chances in such a procedure.
Initially, Merz actually only wanted to run for the presidency a third time if he was offered one, that is, without a renewed candidacy for the fight. Since two competitors could now compete and Merz especially wants to avoid Jens Spahn, he relies – unlike in the past, of course – on a vote of the members. In his email, he asks whether the CDU’s 400,000 or so members should be used only as election aides—or whether their views should be taken seriously: “First on matters of fact, then on personnel decisions?”
Spahn wants a special party conference
Interestingly, Spahn, on the other hand, says the decision should fall at a special party conference at the end of January, regardless of whether the Union has yet to succeed in forming a government under their leadership.
In the party, the next generation must “become more visible now”, the 41-year-old told “Welt am Sonntag” and left Laschet: “No one can deny that mistakes were made in the election campaign and that our top candidate did not signed.” According to Spahn, the decision on the candidacy for chancellor in the future will be taken at a joint party congress.
Spahn is considered well-connected and makes a lot of phone calls these days – because if opposition threatens, the ambitious federal health minister could fall deep. Head of the Bundestag faction until at least the end of April 2022 Ralph Brinkhaus, the office of the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia to succeed Laschet is not available to him for the time being, as unlike a Chancellor (who does not need a Bundestag mandate), he needs a Landtag mandate.
[Wenn Sie aktuelle Nachrichten aus Berlin, Deutschland und der Welt live auf Ihr Handy haben wollen, empfehlen wir Ihnen unsere App, die Sie hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen können.]
“He is Laschet’s husband, a sort of official”
Spahn would undoubtedly have a better chance of voting at a party congress by officials and deputies, not so much at the grassroots level: “He’s Laschet’s man, deputy chairman, a typical type of official,” says an influential CDU politician of the resistance to a new CDU chairman Spahn would grow daily. Spahn is not only controversial because of his actions in the corona pandemic; Reference is now made to his disloyalty to Laschet.
And just after ignoring the grassroots vote to run Laschet as a chancellor candidate against Söder, pressure in the Union for increased membership is mounting, similar to what has become the benchmark in the SPD after years of crises.
“We have to learn that important personnel issues such as a candidate for chancellor cannot be pushed through with a committee majority – against the majority of MPs, members, the public,” Röttgen said in an interview with Tagesspiegel. He therefore considers member decisions sensible in certain situations. “They can decide: do I want Merz, Laschet or Röttgen? Do I want Söder or Laschet?”
The former federal minister of the environment is also once again acting for the presidency. “I’ve always said: if we don’t lead the substantive debates, we will pay a very, very high price for it,” says Röttgen, who sees the party as losing its status as a popular party. “So here we are now. The renewal of the party must therefore bring substantive, communicative, organizational and personal issues together.”
A member survey to prevent Spahn?
Merz supporters such as Carsten Linnemann, the medium-sized politician Christian von Stetten and the Hamburg state president Christoph Ploß also demand in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung” that “the opinion of the members should be taken more into account” when making decisions. in the CDU.
Linnemann emphasized as a Jamaica Alliance would not come about under the leadership of the Union and Laschet would lose his office, the next party leadership would have to be determined via a member survey. Spahn will likely find it increasingly difficult to enforce his party congress plan.
[Lesen Sie zudem eine Analyse zum Desaster der Union: „Ansonsten wählen wir den aufrechten Gang in die Opposition“ (T+)]
The three very different types Merz, Spahn and Röttgen alone show that the Union faces an uphill battle for direction, back to a more conservative course than under Angela Merkel or to a liberal modernization course, which Röttgen stands for, for example.
Side note: after the Angela Merkel era, so far only men have stepped up to lead and reform the party.
Merz emphasizes that the Union no longer has a convincing answer to the big political questions of today, let alone of the future. “Against this background, 24.1 percent and second place was still a relatively good result, mainly achieved by fear of red-green-red.” In the long run, fear of the political opponent is no basis for successful party work. “And since red-green-red is no longer a threat, Union approval ratings could drop even further.”
Laschet’s fate now also depends on Lindner
In principle, Laschet’s fate now mainly depends on FDP leader Christian Lindner, who would have liked to rule with Laschet as chancellor. A decision is expected soon on who will start coalition negotiations with whom.
According to the FDP, the Union will meet with the Greens this Sunday on Tuesday. But as the Jamaica variant is currently becoming increasingly unrealistic due to mounting criticism from CDU boss Laschet, the FDP and Greens could then decide whether to enter into coalition negotiations with the SPD first.
If that were the case, Laschet’s fate would be sealed.
The parallels with the case of Martin Schulz
Someone who with Laschet can empathize is Martin Schulz. After the election defeat in 2017, he was worn out by his own people, was allowed to negotiate with the grand coalition, then lost the party chairmanship and became a simple MP. He advises the CDU chairman to give up before it gets really bitter.
“Laschet clings to the Jamaica perspective because he believes that’s his life insurance policy.” That leads to a hangover in the Union, said Schulz of “Bild am Sonntag”. “Without the theoretical possibility of Jamaica, Laschet would have been forced to resign by his own people. None of his enemies have really come out of cover yet because none of them want to be the bad guy.”