W.hat is the most important thing that distinguishes the CDU from the Greens? That was a question that was asked of the three candidates for the CDU chairmanship on Friday evening. Friedrich Merz said that the CDU was “more on the liberal side”, unlike the Greens, does not want to constantly patronize the citizens. Armin Laschet misses “the feeling for the social question and the feeling for the industrial location Germany” among the Greens. And Norbert Röttgen thought that the Greens could present problems well, but only the Union could really solve them “with market economy competence” and the corresponding market openness.
However, this did not result in controversy among the candidates. Anyone who believed that the three candidates would finally throw the gauntlet down to their competitors in the second and final joint introduction round a week before the party congress and thoroughly stir up the previously moderately interesting application tour, had to be mistaken. This time there were taunts and covered kicks, as far as visible in the digital transmission from the Konrad-Adenauer-Haus, not least between the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia and the former outsider Röttgen.
Laschet defends previous climate protection
The foreign politician had increased significantly in the polls in the past few weeks, and that evening he was the greenest of the three CDU candidates. When it came to the question of whether the data protection of the Corona app should be reduced in order to achieve greater success in tracking the pandemic, Röttgen upheld data protection as necessary, while Laschet and Merz were of the opinion that a reduction was possible or appropriate , after all, data protection is just a basic right like others.
The former Federal Environment Minister Röttgen also addressed the loss of biodiversity several times, which is “part of human resilience”, and he spoke out in favor of state funding for agricultural businesses that do something to preserve this diversity. When it comes to climate protection, Röttgen was most committed to ensuring that there was far more to be done than before, he even wanted to see some of the restrictions experienced in the pandemic transferred to climate protection in the future.
That went too far for Laschet. They are already on the right path, have just shut down the first lignite power plant, others would follow, and the nuclear power plants would also be taken off the grid. Far less is happening in other countries. “Steel production in Germany also makes a contribution to climate protection compared to India and China.” But if the requirements for this industry are raised more and more, then the companies migrate to countries in which hardly anything is done for climate protection.
The winner of the evening
Laschet, who had done poorly in the polls so far, was able to put himself in the limelight again and again that evening. He presented himself as a man of compromise and above all as a politician who has government experience and simply knows what is feasible and what is not.
When Röttgen praised the lifting of the ban on deportation to Syria for those at risk and pointed out that Laschet’s coalition partner FDP in Düsseldorf unfortunately had a different view on the issue of internal security, the Prime Minister replied that it was all about how such a deportation was actually done could manage.
With slogans to the grassroots
Merz stayed on the sidelines in such controversies. He used the topic of internal security to score points with the audience with pithy words. In the fight against clan crime, it is important that the clan members “have to get out of their souped-up cars”, such asset extraction hits them much more sensitive than anything else.
The use of artificial intelligence by the police could mean that in the future it would be possible to convict perpetrators of violent demonstrations, for example, if the officers were equipped with cameras on their bodies, so-called body cameras.
On the subject of Europe, Merz said that one should not generally transfer even more competencies to the EU, since in the end the nation states remained decisive in many areas. In the common foreign and security policy, however, the EU must finally make headway, decide whether it wants to play “Kreisklasse and Champions League” in the international competition. On the question of how to deal with Poland and Hungary, Merz and Röttgen pleaded for tough sanctions for violations of the rule of law. Laschet, on the other hand, said that the two countries are “also the core of Europe” and “we must also bind them to us”.
Government experience as a big plus
In his closing words, Röttgen made it important that he did not stand for a camp, but for the “modern middle” and of course the party had to become “more feminine, younger and more digital”. Above all, he spoke about the fact that he had discussed with the party across the country for the past ten months and “activated a lot of people”.
Laschet replied that he had “not been able to enter the competition for ten months” because he had to worry about how his state got through the pandemic. “I have government experience running a large country,” he said. And it is probably also good to have “already won an election”.
Merz stayed with the buzzwords. He wanted an ecological renewal of the social market economy, a new generation contract with the younger generation and, last but not least, that the CDU remain the European party in Germany. That still sounded a bit old-fashioned, more tangible and less visionary than Röttgen’s. But the point winner that evening was the Prime Minister from Düsseldorf, who embodied a serious “Keep it up!”.