SHARE
COPY LINK

POLITICS

Merkel’s CDU to hold rank-and-file vote for new leader

Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) will pick their next leader through an unprecedented rank-and-file vote after a dismal result in September's election, party chiefs said Tuesday.

Friedrich Merz makes a speech
Possible contender Friedrich Merz makes a speech in Münster in October. Photo: dpa | Bernd Thissen

The new leader will be chosen by a vote among 400,000 CDU members before being formally elected at a congress on January 21 and 22 in Hanover, outgoing party chief Armin Laschet and general secretary Paul Ziemiak told a press conference in Berlin.

Previous leaders have been elected by a much smaller number of delegates at a party congress.

Laschet said it was “a good way to get the CDU off to a new start” after the party and the Bavarian CSU scored their worst election result since World War II in September’s vote.

The Social Democrats (SPD), who emerged as the biggest party, are in talks with the Greens and the liberal FDP to form a ruling coalition and hope to have a new government in place by early December.

No candidates have yet put themselves forward for the CDU leadership, but Friedrich Merz and Norbert Roettgen – who both ran against Laschet when he was elected party leader in early 2021 – are among those expected to run.

Merz is a veteran right-winger and longtime arch-rival of Merkel, while Roettgen is a foreign policy expert who sits nearer the centre of the party.

Health Minister Jens Spahn, who ran unsuccessfully for the leadership in 2018, is also thought to be a possible contender.

Merkel stood down as CDU leader in 2018 after a poor election performance for the party in the state of Hesse, but vowed to stay on as chancellor until 2021’s general election.

After 16 years in power, she will continue as acting chancellor until a new government is formed.

Member comments

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

POLITICS

How Germany is reacting to far-right election victory in Italy

While far-right groups have been celebrating, other politicians in Germany see the results as worrying. Here's a look at the reaction.

How Germany is reacting to far-right election victory in Italy

According to initial projections following Italy’s election on Sunday, the coalition led by Georgia Meloni and her radical right-wing Fratelli d’Italia party has won a majority of seats in the two chambers of the Italian parliament and will lead the next government. 

Meloni is a euro-sceptic who has previously spoken about having an “aversion” to Germany and referred to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as “socialist” while on the campaign trail.

However, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s deputy spokesman Wolfgang Buechner told reporters on Monday: “We of course have to wait for the official final result from this election but at this time what the chancellor would say is that Italy is a very Europe-friendly country with very Europe-friendly citizens and we assume that won’t change.” 

READ ALSO: What will a far-right government mean for Italy?

A Finance Ministry spokesperson added that Berlin expected the new Italian government to continue to respect the stability pact that sets the fiscal rules for the eurozone.

Despite these reassurances from the central government, German politicians in the EU parliament have expressed concern about the new direction for Italy.  

Rasmus Andresen, spokesman for the German Greens in the EU Parliament, said the “unprecedented Italian slide to the right” will have massive repercussions for Europe and for the European Union.

“Italy, as a founding member and the third strongest economy in the EU, is heading for an anti-democratic and anti-European government.”

Though Meloni no longer wants Italy to leave the eurozone, she has said that Rome must assert its interests more and has policies that look set to challenge Brussels on everything from public spending rules to mass migration.

The Greens’ co-leader in Brussels, Thomas Waitz, told Die Welt that the EU can only function if it sticks together, for example on cooperation in energy markets, decisions on Russian sanctions or dealing with the Covid crisis. “Meloni, on the other hand, would back national go-it-alones. It can be a disaster for Europe,”  he said. 

READ ALSO: Euro falls to 20-year low against US dollar

The FDP’s expert on Europe, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, takes a similar view. He said on ARD’s Morgenmagazin that cooperation with Italy in the European Union will become more difficult. He said that it will now be much more difficult to achieve unity in Europe, especially on the issues of migration, reform of the Stability and Growth Pact and the single market.

Speaking on RTL, Green Party leader Omid Nouripour called the election results in Italy “worrying” and pointed out that people within the Italian right-wing nationalist alliance have “very close entanglements with the Kremlin”.

“We can’t rule out the possibility that people in Moscow also popped the corks last night,” he said.

Germany’s own far-right party – Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) – has been celebrating the victory. 

AfD member of the Bundestag Beatrix von Storch wrote “We cheer with Italy!” on Twitter late Sunday evening.

Referring to the recent elections in Sweden, where the right was also successful, von Storch wrote: “Sweden in the north, Italy in the south: left-wing governments are so yesterday.”

Her party colleague Malte Kaufmann tweeted, “A good day for Italy – a good day for Europe.”

With reporting from AFP

SHOW COMMENTS