On Sunday, the conservative CDU and its Bavarian version CSU got one of the worst election results in their history. Still, Armin Laschet behaved like a victor. Now, more and more prominent CDU members slam him.
Berlin, September 28th, 2021 (The Berlin Spectator) — It was a foregone conclusion that the conservative ‘union parties’ in Germany would not score a big win with Armin Laschet as their candidate for Chancellor. A few months ago, he insisted on running himself. Influential party members, including Wolfgang Schäuble, a former Kohl confidant and Interior Minister who is President of the Bundestag, defended him against the other candidate, the CSU’s chairman and Bavarian First Minister Markus Söder whose support was a lot higher, according to polls.
Back then, there were some voices within the CDU who openly said they supported Markus Söder. They were proven right on Sunday. Some of those voices are annoyed and even horrified today, not so much because of the defeat their conservative party suffered, but because of Armin Laschet’s behavior after the results were announced on Sunday evening. In spite of the catastrophic result he is responsible for, at least in part, he acted like an election winner, also by saying he would try to form a government coalition because this was what the voters wanted.
Somehow, Laschet even managed to get a group photo with the CDU’s party board and Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday night. Obviously, the picture was supposed to say something: “We were not defeated and we intend to head the next government”, was the message it conveyed. Now it turns out this message may have been sent prematurely, because more and more conservatives criticize it sharply.
Kretschmer Sees ‘Earthquake’
One of the critics within the CDU is Michael Kretschmer, the First Minister of Saxony, where the extremist far-right AfD got most votes on Sunday. He said the election result had been “an earthquake” which had shown a “mood for change” more than anything. This fact needed to be conceded, Kretschmer told the MDR radio and TV network. The First Minister, who used to be a Söder supporter when the ‘union parties’ were looking for the right candidate for Chancellor, stated he did not understand the position which had been taken at the Konrad Adenauer Haus, the party’s HQ in Berlin.
Kretschmer is not alone. Commerce Minister Peter Altmaier, another powerful voice within the ‘union’, said the CDU needed to talk about both its personnel and its policies. He told the ‘Rheinische Post’ daily, the party had lost many swing voters. “We need to hear the signal the citizens sent”, Altmaier said in the interview. He stated he had expressed his position back then, when he had supported Markus Söder. Now, his worries had been outstripped by reality.
Later today, the new CDU/CSU caucus at the Berlin Bundestag was supposed to convene. It remains to be seen how this body treats Armin Laschet and how another power struggle will end: Laschet, the election loser, does not only want to be Chancellor, but also floor leader at the Bundestag. Getting his opponent Ralph Brinkhaus out of the way should be tricky.
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