SHARE
COPY LINK

POLITICS

German conservatives fear ‘polarisation’ over Merkel succession

The leader of Angela Merkel's party warned of a "polarising" election campaign Monday as Germany's conservatives prepared for fresh talks over the bitter battle to succeed the chancellor at upcoming elections.

German conservatives fear 'polarisation' over Merkel succession
Armin Laschet talking on Monday. Photo:D PA

“We know from the USA what it means to have polarised election campaigns, and we know how long it took and is taking a new president to once again reconcile the country,” said Armin Laschet, leader of the Christian Democratic
Union (CDU).

“We should spare ourselves that in Germany,” he added.

Laschet, who is state premier of Germany’s most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia, has been locked in a power struggle against his Bavarian challenger Markus Soeder, leader of the CSU party, over who will lead the conservatives into general elections on September 26th.

Overnight talks in Berlin between the two men on Sunday evening produced no result, fuelling speculation that the candidacy issue may be settled by a vote amongst parliamentarians from the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU,
on Tuesday.

On Monday, Laschet announced further talks among his party’s leadership, while Soeder made a thinly veiled call for the larger CDU to back him as the more popular candidate.

Broad backing

Söder, who declared his bid for the job a week ago, on Monday repeated his promise to step aside “without resentment” if the CDU nominated Laschet.

Yet having refused to back down when the CDU leadership came out in support for Laschet last week, the 54-year-old said he was ready to take the job if he had “broad backing” from the CDU.

“Broad backing means when the board, parliamentary group and rank and file all want it,” he added.

“It is important to respect the members, the MPs and the population in general,” said Söder, noting that he had received support for his candidacy from the wider public.

A recent poll by public broadcaster ARD showed 44 percent of Germans in favour of Söder as most qualified as the CDU-CSU’s chancellor candidate.

Laschet only had 15 percent of support.

Yet Söder also said that he would accept a decision from the CDU if it favoured Laschet.

“We don’t want to and we won’t see a rift between the CSU and the CDU,” he insisted.

READ MORE: Merkel’s conservatives fail to reach deal on who will be chancellor candidate

Surging Greens

Divisions in the conservative camp were further underlined on Monday as the Greens – who are polling second behind the CDU-CSU – announced co-chair Annalena Baerbock as their candidate at a slick press event with no signs of strife within the centre-left party.

Congratulating Baerbock on the nomination, Laschet promised a “fair election campaign” and urged parties to be “respectful” of each other in a veiled warning to Söder.

The CSU leader struck a more combative note, saying that he disagreed with the Greens’ “core ideology” when it came to social and economic policy.

Laschet said he had also invited Söder to Monday’s talks, yet the Bavarian said he would not be able to make it back to Berlin in time to take part.

“We need to talk to each other a lot in these days. The aim is that the CDU-CSU wins the elections, and that can only happen if we are together,” said Laschet.

Member comments

  1. I fail to see how any of this is polarising, seeing as it´s just two different conservative candidates from sister party´s. Perhaps the article title should more correctly read: German conservatives fear change.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

POLITICS

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has sued the German parliament for removing some of his official post-retirement perks over his links to Russian energy giants, his lawyer said Friday.

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Schröder, 78, has come under heavy criticism for his proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin and involvement with state-backed energy companies.

The decision to suspend Schröder’s taxpayer-funded office and staff in May was “contrary to the rule of law”, Michael Nagel, told public broadcaster NDR.

Schröder “heard of everything through the media”, Nagel said, noting that the Social Democrat had asked for a hearing before the budget committee responsible but was not given the chance to express himself.

READ ALSO: Germany strips Schröder of official perks over Russia ties

Schröder’s lawyers filed the complaint with an administrative Berlin court, a spokesman for the court confirmed.

In its decision to strip him of the perks, the committee concluded that Schröder, who served as chancellor from 1998 to 2005, “no longer upholds the continuing obligations of his office”.

Most of Schröder’s office staff had already quit before the final ruling was made.

Despite resigning from the board of Russian oil company Rosneft and turning down a post on the supervisory board of gas giant Gazprom in May, Schröder has maintained close ties with the Kremlin.

The former chancellor met Putin in July, after which he said Moscow was ready for a “negotiated solution” to the war in Ukraine — comments branded as “disgusting” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Last week, the Social Democrats concluded that Schröder would be allowed to remain a member after he was found not have breached party rules over his ties to the Russian President.

Schröder’s stance on the war and solo diplomacy has made him an embarrassment to the SPD, which is also the party of current Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

SHOW COMMENTS