B.In the last election for CDU chairmanship, Norbert Röttgen had to admit defeat to Friedrich Merz and Armin Laschet in the first ballot. Now he starts again. On Wednesday evening, he answered questions from CDU members at a candidate presentation broadcast on the Internet. This made it clear: Röttgen is the candidate of women in the party.
One questioner said to Röttgen, whose previous candidacy was supported by the Women’s Union: “You are the one who has always stood by us women. Not like Mr Merz, who only now remembers when it is opportune for him. ”At his presentation on Monday, Merz had admitted that there were too few women in the CDU. “I’m happy about your assessment that it is easier for me with women – if it were, I would be very proud of it,” replied Röttgen. It cannot remain that only a quarter of the party members are women.
The search for a family and social policy answer
He spoke a lot about his own family in his replies to members. He saw in his children, who went to school and studied, that the younger ones had suffered from the pandemic. “Sitting at the computer is not the essence of the student days,” said Röttgen about the transfer of teaching to digital.
The pandemic also revealed the weaknesses in the German education system. “We owe it to the students to improve the abysmal digital equipment in schools,” he said. He also understands the concerns of families. Many young couples do not know whether they can afford an apartment in which they can raise a child. There was pressure on women in particular: “I know the situation when women have to combine work, children and volunteering,” he said. It is important to find a family and socio-political answer to this.
An internist from Berlin was concerned about the current pandemic situation and asked Röttgen whether he would plead for compulsory vaccination. “I have long been in favor of compulsory vaccination for carers and teachers,” he replied. Röttgen is skeptical about whether the peak of the pandemic is the right time for such a decision. You have to use the time now to clarify whether mandatory vaccination is constitutionally possible, he suggested. The situation is so serious that now is no time for party-political calculations. “I think it would be great if Angela Merkel and Olaf Scholz would go public and make a joint appeal for vaccinations,” he said.
Climate change as an economic and technological opportunity
The former Federal Environment Minister was also asked many questions about his vision of a German climate policy. Röttgen seemed best prepared for this topic. Only the party that advocates a credible climate policy will be heard by the youth, because climate change is the defining topic of the young generation. He was ready to embody this credibility as CDU chairman in the fight against the Greens, said Röttgen. According to the candidate, the question that will define this decade is: “How will Germany be able to prove to the world that economic growth is compatible with climate protection?” Röttgen said he also sees climate change as an economic and technological opportunity. Germany needs “an energy concept that is forward-looking”. He relies on hydrogen, gas and renewable energies.
The members also wanted to know from their candidate how he wanted to renew the CDU after the election defeat in September. Röttgen made it clear in several places that he wanted to put the party on a broader personal basis. “We need a connection between position and person,” he said. It is important to build up the representatives of the party to individual brands. People are too diverse to identify with just one person. That is why he does not want to become chairman of the Bundestag parliamentary group in addition to his possible office as party chairman. The CDU now needs different characters who offer greater potential for identification.
“CDU will be the democratic home of the conservatives”
In addition, the Union must act as one again. If he is elected, the first thing he will do is invite the CSU Presidium to a meeting, said Röttgen. One questioner turned to Röttgen critically about how he wanted to mobilize the conservatives in his party. “Under my leadership, the CDU will be the democratic home of the conservatives,” replied Röttgen. For him, being conservative means not clinging to the old. The party must accept changes and shape the change.
The members put only a few questions about foreign policy to the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Bundestag. Röttgen said he was concerned about the Russian troop transfers to the border with Ukraine. The defense capability of the Bundeswehr in NATO is also important from this point of view – and from his point of view this also includes armed drones. However, this also provides for the coalition agreement of the traffic light parties presented in the afternoon.
On Monday, Friedrich Merz had already answered questions from CDU members. Helge Braun, currently Executive Minister of the Chancellery, will follow on Thursday. The introductory phase ends with a discussion between the three candidates on December 1st.
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