W.he would have thought so. The otherwise cautious Armin Laschet chose precisely the climate issue for his first attack against the opponent Markus Söder. Greener than the Greens is the Bavarian, complained the Aachener last Tuesday, when the applicants for the chancellor candidacy of the CDU and CSU dueled in front of the joint parliamentary group. Laschet demanded more of his own signature in climate policy, more market economy. One should not forge alliances with a green prime minister, as Söder did, and also not demand an earlier coal exit. All of this does not benefit the Union, it only drives more voters to the Greens.
Correspondent for economic policy and deputy head of economics and “Money & More” for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung in Berlin.
The attitude to climate policy, the relationship with the Greens: With this, the CDU chairman had addressed the central points that are at stake in the Union’s candidate duel. Whether the Union can agree on an applicant before the Greens present their favorites for the Chancellery on Monday is only the surface issue. Much more important for the future of the CDU and CSU appears to be how the respective winners of the Laschet / Söder and Baerbock / Habeck competition relate to one another afterwards.
As far as the two Unionists are concerned, the situation seemed to be very clear in the past: Armin Laschet, that was the man who, as a young member of parliament, met with Green colleagues at the Italians and primarily debated socio-political issues – in immigration policy he stands Baerbock / Habeck party is still close to this day, while he rather relies on a clear edge in internal security.
Söder, however, already acted as general secretary under the party chairman Edmund Stoiber. That was only half true in the past, because Laschet was never particularly interested in environmental policy and Söder, as Bavarian minister from 2008 to 2011, dug deep into the matter. As Secretary General, he called for the internal combustion engine to be banned from 2020.
“We must remain an industrial country”
It is now less true than ever, at least when you look at their public confessions. At least since the Bavarian bee referendum, Söder has been the 150 percent environmental politician who does not allow himself to be overtaken by any Greens in his love for nature. Even in immigration policy, he has been adopting a softer tone since the defeat in the asylum dispute in summer 2018, which almost cost him office.
Conversely, since he surprisingly rose to prime ministerial level in 2017, Laschet has been the custodian of companies and jobs. “We have to remain an industrialized country,” he says into every microphone he encounters in the course of a working day; in his application speech at the CDU party congress, he presented himself as the son of a miner. According to the message, it ensures that the chimneys in the homeland of coal and steel continue to smoke – albeit not as dirty as before. The fact that young climate activists attacked him hard for it was something that suited him.
It is therefore not particularly surprising that parts of the economic wing have sided with Laschet, above all Friedrich Merz, the defeated opponent in the dispute over the CDU chairmanship. It seems more in need of explanation why the greatest support for Söder is rising in those Eastern regional associations of all places, who still consider climate policy to be a fluff of spoiled West German city dwellers. Obviously, the habitus of determination is what counts, the positioning of Bavaria’s content is assigned a shorter half-life. “They don’t take what he’s saying seriously,” judges a top green.
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