In the CSU, the criticism of Markus Söder’s strict Corona course is getting louder: a chorus of many individual calls for relaxation. The boss now wants to take pressure off the debate. The situation is uncomfortable for him.
Munich – It sounds quite banal and vague, what Markus Söder says in the cameras shortly before the party executive committee. “The impatience is growing”, he explains on Monday morning, now “politics shouldn’t lose its nerve” or “only listen to the respective lobby associations”. But the message is tough, because Söder’s words should be aimed specifically at his own party. A fundamental dispute about easing has broken out in the CSU – his course is on fire.
Corona in Bavaria: CSU criticism of Söder’s course is growing
The criticism has been growing for weeks. It started with economic politicians who had long been struggling with the lockdown. Local politicians followed, especially district administrators, who received the most direct criticism, especially from parents and retailers, and were differently steadfast. A kind of nest of resistance has also grown in the CSU parliamentary group around Ilse Aigner: The President of the State Parliament has been calling internally since February, then openly according to a step-by-step plan and warns of “arbitrary” decisions in the Corona course. Many MPs from Upper Bavaria recently approved in an internal meeting.
This is new for Söder, whom the party has followed devotedly since 2018, even after the poor state election result. He is worried that if the virus mutations skyrocket, if the virus mutations jump up too quickly, they will immediately experience an explosion in the number of infections. Politically, he would then be scolded, no district administrator and no Ms. Aigner.
“The worst thing besides war” is this pandemic, he says on the board of directors, warns, admonishes – but gives in a little. The quick opening of the nurseries, the prospects for school and contacts are his signs to the critics. He has recently been talking about the “triad of vaccinating, testing and relieving”.
Söder under pressure: critics take turns – “He moves, millimeters”
“It moves, millimeters,” says a veteran. The broken court in the video conference of the board, feared by some, does not materialize. Among others, the head of the regional group Alexander Dobrindt speaks to the conscience: “We are currently in the most critical phase of the pandemic”, he asked for a “sensitive balance”.
Critics took turns reporting on Monday, especially many party friends: clear, but polite. EU politician Angelika Niebler is questioned: “Family businesses go hops”, you need a signal to SMEs. Daniela Ludwig advocates the textile retail sector, reminding them that classic CSU clients are being alienated here: “They have their backs to the wall.” Ilse Aigner advises loosening the contact limits, as nobody understands the rule of “household plus one person” more. It also gently demands more discussions in the party. So far, Söder has decided largely alone, subsequently legitimized by the parliamentary group, state parliament or party committees.
Corona: Warnings even from Söder’s good cabinet – and every opening is requested once
There are even warnings from Söder’s often obscure cabinet: Minister Kerstin Schreyer warns that more lonely young people should be looked at. She also reports on “entrepreneurs with tears in their eyes”. Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann also advises more relaxation in leisure and popular sports. Other board members demand not only to stare at the incidences, two are calling for the catering trade to be opened.
After three hours, almost every opening was requested once. This is also tricky for Söder, because the internal contradictions are now also landing in the national media; ZDF already asked Söder with relish whether he was still thinking about running for chancellor. At the same time, there are unofficial numbers circulating about party withdrawals, netted several hundred since Lockdown II. In the CSU, grumbling party friends are much more dangerous than a grumbling opposition. Söder seemed a little bent, say participants in the board.
Laschet or Söder? This question will occupy the Union for months to come. Astonishment is growing in the CDU – party leaders are already leaning far out of the window. In Bavaria, Prime Minister Söder is in a low poll. The citizens of the Free State have probably not been satisfied with the Corona course for a long time.