New party leadership: CDU is looking for Laschet’s successor: first member survey, then party conference in mid-January

Berlin The CDU leadership plays it safe and takes a little more time to look for bosses. Armin Laschet’s successor is to be officially elected at a party congress on January 21st and 22nd in Hanover.

Before that there should be a member survey, in which a decision will be made on the party chairmanship. The CDU federal executive board unanimously decided on Tuesday at a special meeting, as it was hot from the circles of participants.

The delegates at the party congress are only supposed to formally confirm the vote of the 400,000 members who will be asked about the party chairmanship this year. It is so legally necessary. For the first time in the history of the party, the decision of who will be the head of the CDU will be made by the grassroots.

This step, which is very unusual for the CDU, is a reaction to the devastating defeat in the Bundestag election and the dissatisfaction of the party base. Laschet is resigning from the office he was only elected to in January. On Saturday, the CDU invited its 326 district and 27 district chairmen to Berlin to discuss the reorganization. At the conference, an overwhelming majority voted in favor of a member survey. The federal executive committee has now followed this mandate with its resolution.

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Call for a quick clarification of the leadership issue

Before that, there had been calls for a faster decision. A federal party conference in the coming year is “too late”, said Saarland’s Prime Minister Tobias Hans. North Rhine-Westphalia’s Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst said: “My concern is that we come to decisions quickly so that clarity can be found quickly.”

Both heads of government have to pass state elections in the coming year – Hans in March, Wüst in May. “The CDU was not founded for self-employment, but to take care of people’s concerns,” said Wüst. Schleswig-Holstein’s Prime Minister Daniel Günther, who also has a state election ahead of him in the coming year, is also keen on speed.

But a party congress before Christmas was considered too risky in view of the lengthy procedure of a member survey. Especially since more than two applicants for the party chairmanship would also need a runoff election.

The displeasure at the base was too great

Even if the process is more complicated: The CDU cannot avoid the member survey. The displeasure at the grassroots level is huge after the election debacle, especially since they have already felt ignored three times.

First the election of Kramp-Karrenbauer as CDU chairwoman, who gave up after a year. Then the decision for Laschet as the successor to the party leadership and finally as a candidate for chancellor. The CDU federal executive had spoken out in favor of Laschet, although the basis for CSU boss Markus Söder was.

Now the base finally wants to have a say. And the party leaders hope that a new chairman, strengthened by the member survey, will succeed in what Kramp-Karrenbauer and Laschet had failed to do: to unite the party. In addition, there is also the task of normalizing the relationship with the CSU and its boss Markus Söder.

But the crucial question remained open even after the details of the process had been clarified by the federal executive committee: Who will apply for party chairmanship? Five CDU politicians are traded as possible candidates: the former Union parliamentary group leader Friedrich Merz, the executive health minister Jens Spahn, the foreign policy specialist Norbert Röttgen, the incumbent chairman of the Union parliamentary group Ralph Brinkhaus and the head of the economic wing, Carsten Linnemann.

Difficult team building

The potential candidates met on Monday in the conference center of the Archdiocese of Cologne. Günter Krings, head of the North Rhine-Westphalian Bundestag members, had invited to the retreat in his home town of Bergisch-Gladbach.

In the Kardinal-Schulte-Haus there was not only the opportunity to talk about the new role as the opposition party on All Saints’ Day. Since all potential applicants for the office of party chairman and even the incumbent CDU leader, Laschet, come from North Rhine-Westphalia, there was enough time for discussions.

After their last attempt at the party congress in January, the conservative economic politician Merz and the more liberal foreign politician Röttgen now want to try to convince the majority of the party with a team. Health Minister Spahn and parliamentary group leader Brinkhaus, on the other hand, are given little chance in a member survey. And Linnemann? The 44-year-old head of the SME Union and parliamentary deputy wants to get the party back on track with the 65-year-old Merz as a team.

Röttgen, it was said, is also exploring a team. The 56-year-old wants to stand for the “modern middle”, as he himself says. To do this, a woman should compete with him. At the beginning of the year it was Ellen Demuth. Röttgen is now looking for a replacement for the pale Rhineland-Palatinate woman. The Rhinelander may also propose a dual leadership, which so many women in the Union would like. It cannot be ruled out that completely different candidates will appear on the scene.

More: The CDU politicians Friedrich Merz and Carsten Linnemann want to form a team

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