“One can only improve one's image with reliability and a clear course. Instant policies such as the reaction to Fukushima don't yield any results,” Mike Mohring, CDU floor leader in the Thuringian state parliament, told Der Spiegel magazine.
Merkel temporarily shut down seven nuclear reactors in the aftermath of the nuclear disaster in Japan, and announced a reverse of a 2010 decision to extend the lifespan of the country's nuclear plants. The U-turn failed to bring electoral success. In a string of regional votes CDU support has waned while the anti-nuclear Greens are seeing their vote surge.
Mohring's counterpart in Hesse, Christean Wagner was equally as scathing about recent missteps by the chancellor. “It cannot be that we change tack politically whenever the occasion arises. The citizens demand dependability from our party.”
Peter Hauk, CDU floor leader in Baden-Württemberg, would like to see Merkel improving the way she explains her policies. “If we have an about-turn on nuclear policy, then that has to explained to the citizens and to the CDU voters,” he told Der Spiegel. “That is also a task of the party.”
The fact that Merkel has been pushing the CDU to the political centre has caused unease within many sections of the party, raising concerns that it could alienate more conservative voters.
“Opening up the party to new marginal groups and more to the centre – I cannot hear any more of these analyses,” CDU energy expert Thomas Bareiss said. “The chancellor and the party have to recognize the fact that we are in the same situation as the SPD after Agenda 2010.”
Agenda 2010 is the name given to the package of wide-reaching welfare and labour reforms introduced by the government of former Social Democrat Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.
“We are abandoning the issues that appeal to our core clientele and yet we are not gaining any crediblity with new voters,” Bareiss argued. He insisted that the party return to its traditional themes. “Easing the burden on the middle classes, securing jobs and domestic security – these issues are not being addressed by us at all.”