Armin Laschet consolidates his reputation as the Union’s stand-up man. The miner’s son from Aachen has an unusual vita – from the integration expert to the insecure corona cantonist.
Berlin – Armin Laschet is the Union’s candidate for chancellor: The short but fierce power struggle with CSU leader Markus Söder ended on April 20th. Supporters of the 60-year-old stand-up politician should feel confirmed – because Laschet seems to be the grandmaster of the almost averted defeat.
The most prominent example up to the Chancellor’s election: In the state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia in 2017 it looked for a long time as if Hannelore Kraft would become the strongest force again with the SPD, but Laschet was able to catch up with the Social Democrats in the last few meters and won with 33 percent of votes the choice.
Admittedly, it was not the only time that Laschet seemed to have been written off: in 2010 he narrowly lost the election as head of the NRW CDU to Norbert Röttgen and was able to take office almost two years later – the party had meanwhile lost the state elections under Röttgen. And back in 1998, the then 38-year-old Armin Laschet lost his parliamentary mandate. Only in order to make the leap into the European Parliament in the following year.
Armin Laschet: CDU stand-up men as chancellor candidate – victory against Söder in the last meters
In 2021 there was also a turning point in the fight for the candidacy for chancellor. In particular at a turbulent and for Laschet not directly flattering union parliamentary group meeting, the CDU leader seemed to be on the decline – observers wanted to have observed a “struggling for composure” Armin Laschet. Party friends even warned of the end of the party chairman should Markus Söder make the race. But Laschet turned the matter around again in the CDU executive committee.
Nonetheless, an extremely delicate election campaign flourished in the spring of 2021 in North Rhine-Westphalia. A divided CDU, personal polls have been weak for months and shortly after the election of the candidates also a low blow for the opinion polls for the entire Union. Not only in Markus Söder’s camp warned of a momentous election defeat for the Union. If it happened like this: Laschet could have difficulties again defending his position at the top of the CDU.
Laschet: Start as Minister of Integration – the post had a formative effect
Laschet’s political experience could help. After all, he is not a newcomer to top politics: He has been a member of the CDU’s federal executive committee since 2008; The North Rhine-Westphalia also gained government experience many years ago. From 2005 to 2010 he was Minister for Generations, Family, Women and Integration in his home country, and from 2010 Minister for Federal Affairs, Europe and the Media.
Among other things, the post of Minister of Integration proved to be formative: Laschet likes to advertise and is convincing for a “colorful and diverse Germany”. Even in the so-called refugee crisis of 2015, he was firmly at the side of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Chancellor Laschet? Experienced “bring together” – and connoisseur of the Greens from the times of the “Pizza Connection”
Laschet also has a reputation as an accomplished “merger” – supporters like to emphasize his achievements in this regard as the head of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Largely silent, Laschet leads a black-yellow coalition in Düsseldorf. With a wafer-thin majority and an extremely diverse cabinet: from Interior Minister Herbert Reul, at least publicly positioned as a conservative hardliner, to Labor Minister Karl-Josef Laumann from the CDU workers’ wing.
After the long power struggle with Markus Söder for the post of candidate for chancellor of the Union, he will certainly need this ability. Another experience with possible government benefits: In the 1990s, Laschet was part of the “Pizza Connection” group, a group of young Union and Green politicians who met for regular exchange. A coalition with the Greens does not seem a completely absurd constellation for the time after the federal election. Any negotiating partner like Cem Özdemir could know Laschet inside out from times together.
Chancellor candidate of the Union: Bergmann’s son Armin Laschet studied law and has three grown children
Laschet studied political science and law in Munich and Bonn, but was born in Aachen. In 1987 he passed the first state examination in law, but he did not take the legal clerkship or the second state examination. Today he lives with his wife Susanne Laschet in Aachen-Burtscheid, where he grew up, the couple has three grown children. Son Joe also achieved political notoriety in a medium-sized mask scandal in 2020 – admittedly in a rather unpleasant way for Laschet.
Laschet grew up as the son of a former miner in a Catholic family and as the eldest of four brothers. An origin that Laschet likes to refer to himself now and then: in the decisive speech before the election to the CDU party leader, he held a tin badge in the cameras that his father had received as a miner and had now given him. “Tell people they can trust you,” Laschet quoted his father as saying. The CDU members seemed convinced.
Chancellor candidate Laschet: “Würfel-Armin”, Europe advocate – and insecure Corona cantonist
Another little-known anecdote: Laschet worked temporarily as an external lecturer at a university in Aachen. However, he had to give up this post. He had reportedly creatively re-graded exams that had disappeared “in the mail”. This reported the tazwho had spoken to the “General Student Committee”. Laschet had reconstructed the grades of his students on the basis of notes, it was read. However, seminar participants also received a grade who did not write the exam. Some of their grades are even said to have been rated better than those of those who actually took notes. The nickname “Würfel-Armin” stuck for a while.
This old story does not give the impression of a particularly organized and meticulous worker – a possible point of attack for the Greens around Annalena Baerbock, who has a completely different reputation. But Laschet friends already see completely different advantages of the Union Chancellor candidate: In the debates about the question of Söder or Laschet, in addition to the ability to integrate, Laschet’s character was repeatedly praised directly or indirectly. In fact, the NRW Prime Minister is considered a credible advocate of the European idea and a supporter of lived democracy. The latter at least emphasized Laschet himself after the turbulent CDU meetings in April: It is good if “everything comes to the table”.
Of course, portraying Laschet as a man of conviction and Söder as a turning neck could also fall short: Not least in the Corona crisis, Laschet also made some unexpected turns. That was probably not good for the polls either. Now it has to do the magic of the “stand up lash” once more. (fn / dp)
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