Dhe federal chairman of the Union of Values, Max Otte, has rejected the demand of the CDU to leave the party because of his nomination by the AfD as a candidate for the federal presidential election. “There are no reasons for me to think about leaving,” Otte told the newspaper “Die Welt” on Tuesday. He therefore accepts the nomination by the AfD, which he described as a “great honor”. “The office is independent of parties, you shouldn’t look at the office from a party-political point of view.” He will run for office with the topics of social affairs and civil and fundamental rights, he said.
CDU General Secretary Paul Ziemiak had previously asked Otte to leave the party. Anyone who does not immediately rule out being elected by AfD representatives “violates the values of the CDU to such an extent that they can no longer have a place in the CDU,” he said. The CDU federal board wanted to discuss the further procedure on Tuesday, announced the new general secretary Mario Czaja, who is not yet in office. The CDU leadership had given Otte an ultimatum until 5:30 p.m. to explain whether he would accept the nomination. When asked about the ultimatum, Otte told the German Press Agency in Berlin: “Nobody called me. I would certainly take a call and react accordingly.”
Otte defended himself against this. “The office of Federal President escapes party disputes. I consider the AfD’s proposal to be a great honor,” Otte told Der Spiegel. And further: “I see the AfD clearly on the ground of the Basic Law. Therefore, a CDU exclusion procedure against me would not only be incomprehensible, but also incompatible with democratic principles. ”For Otte, the warnings from the CDU are therefore not a criterion in his decision-making.
Members of the Union faction had previously been critical of Otte’s possible candidacy. “A candidacy for another party, especially in this case for the AfD, would be absolutely out of the question,” said the parliamentary manager of the Union faction in the Bundestag, Thorsten Frei (CDU), on Tuesday in Berlin. Such a candidacy would violate all rules and “would clearly be behavior damaging to the party, which would necessarily lead to an exclusion,” he added. The outgoing CDU chairman Armin Laschet also sharply criticized Otte. “To be nominated by the AfD as a presidential candidate is not an honor but a shame,” he wrote on Twitter. Anyone who even considers this as a Christian Democrat damages the reputation of the Union, violates its values and has no place in the CDU.
Critical voices from your own faction
CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt also suggested that Otte leave the CDU. After Otte did not immediately contradict the AfD’s request to make him a candidate for the office of Federal President, he expects him “to give back his CDU membership,” said Dobrindt on Tuesday in Berlin.
“I find it irresponsible that such a request by the AfD is simply left open and still flirted with.” Anyone considering accepting a candidacy for the AfD, no matter for which office, “has the responsibility, then from the party family of the Union as well to leave,” said Dobrindt.
Otte had told the German Press Agency before the unrest within the CDU: “The office offers the chance to heal, to reconcile, to admonish. I consult with my family and think deeply about it.”
AfD nominates CDU politicians
The AfD leadership proposed the chairman of the right-wing conservative values union, Max Otte, for the office of Federal President on Tuesday. AfD Vice Stephan Brandner confirmed that the AfD had spoken out in favor of Otte as a candidate for the office of Federal President. The result in a switch from the federal board and state heads the previous evening was clear, said Brandner in Berlin. He spoke of a very clear commitment to Otte. Party and faction leader Tino Chrupalla is expected to comment on the subject at a press conference in the afternoon.
The Union of Values, which claims to have around 4,000 members, sees itself as representing the conservative current in the Union, but is not an official party organization. Internal critics have long accused Otte of wanting to move the Union of Values to the right and open it to the AfD. Until January 2021, the fund manager was chairman of the board of trustees of the AfD-affiliated Desiderius Erasmus Foundation.
Otte has practically no chance of becoming President. Incumbent Frank-Walter Steinmeier is running for a further five years with the support of the governing parties and the Union. The Federal Assembly meets on February 13 to elect the Federal President.
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