Support for Merkel’s CDU party sinks amid more resignations

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative alliance was haemorrhaging support on Friday as a fourth MP resigned in a corruption scandal dogging the party six months before general elections.

Support for Merkel's CDU party sinks amid more resignations
Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) spoke with Merkel before a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. Photo: DPA

The conservatives are now polling at just 29 percent nationally, their lowest level of support for a year and below the 32.9 percent they secured in the 2017 elections, according to a survey published by the ARD broadcaster.

Tobias Zech, a member of the Bundestag for the CSU Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s CDU, on Thursday became the latest in a string of MPs to resign over corruption allegations.

Zech had carried out paid PR work for a political party in Macedonia shortly after he was elected to the Bundestag in 2016, according to Der Spiegel weekly.

He had declared the activities but felt that “from today’s point of view, I would evaluate (them) differently and would no longer carry them out”, according to the Münchner Merkur, quoting a letter Zech wrote to fellow party members.

The revelation is the latest in a scandal that has embroiled the CDU-CSU alliance after two of its lawmakers were accused of profiting directly or indirectly from coronavirus mask contracts.

CSU lawmaker Georg Nüßlein was last month placed under investigation for corruption following accusations that he accepted around 600,000 to lobby for a mask supplier.

A similar controversy embroiled CDU lawmaker Nikolas Löbel, whose company allegedly pocketed 250,000 in commissions for acting as an intermediary in mask contracts.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s face mask scandal

Löbel gave up his mandate, while Nüßlein has left the CDU/CSU parliamentary group.

On Wednesday, investigators probing the scandal searched the offices belonging to Alfred Sauter, a member of the CSU executive committee and former Bavarian justice minister.

The so-called mask affair erupted in the run-up to two key regional elections in the states of Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate this month, with the conservatives scoring their worst ever results in both states.

READ ALSO: Merkel’s conservatives suffer heavy losses in state elections

The scandal compounded voter frustration over a sluggish vaccine rollout, a delayed start to mass rapid testing and higher infection numbers despite months of shutdowns.

CDU chief Armin Laschet admitted the party “must improve” its coronavirus management as it looks to gain ground ahead of a general election of September 26th.

With the conservatives moving to clean up their ranks, MPs have since also come forward over conflicts of interest beyond the “mask affair”.

Mark Hauptmann, a CDU lawmaker from the eastern German state of Thuringia, gave up his mandate over accusations that he had received payments from foreign governments such as Azerbaijan to lobby for them.

Member comments

  1. I’m so much disappointed in CDU and Merkel… Really looking forward to saying her goodbye in September…

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Germany’s centre-right CDU to elect new leadership by end of the year

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party will elect its new leadership by the year's end, general secretary Paul Ziemiak said Monday, detailing plans for a clean slate after a disastrous election that the party lost to the Social Democrats.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and CDU leader Armin Laschet on the election campaign trail in Aachen before the election.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and CDU leader Armin Laschet on the election campaign trail in Aachen before the election. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Federico Gambarini

In power for 16 years under Merkel, the Christian Democratic Union is grappling with its deepest crisis in decades after turning in a historic low score in September’s election.

Its leader Armin Laschet last week signalled his readiness to step aside, setting the ball rolling for renewal at the top.

READ ALSO: Laschet signals he’s ready to step down as CDU leader

Ziemiak said a date for the congress to determine the new makeup of the party’s top brass as well as how rank and file members can participate in the leadership selection process will be announced on November 2nd.

But the party’s leaders “today agreed unanimously that we will elect a completely new executive board,” he said, adding that in terms of the calendar, the “window for this is year’s end”.

Bild daily had reported that the party has made a tentative booking for December 6th-13th in Dresden for its possible congress.

READ ALSO: Germany edges a step closer to a government led by Social Democrats

Laschet, who is state premier of Germany’s most populous region North Rhine-Westphalia, was elected head of the CDU in January.

For some time, he was the clear favourite to succeed Merkel, who is bowing out of politics after running four consecutive coalitions.

But his party’s ratings began to slide as he committed a series of gaffes, including being caught on camera laughing in the background during a solemn tribute to flood victims.

With the CDU’s ratings plunging, Merkel tried to boost Laschet’s campaign with joint appearances, but was unable to help the conservatives pull off a win on election day.