A.On Sunday the news spread that the Junge Union (JU) would meet for a conference that evening. Even before that, there was little doubt what the outcome of the meeting would be: clear support for the candidacy for chancellor of CSU chairman Markus Söder. The JU chairman Tilman Kuban had declared in the board meeting of the CDU a week ago that the other applicant, the North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister Armin Laschet, would have to decide “all by himself” whether he or Söder would run. It had long been clear to him that large parts of the youth organization were for Söder. When an agreement was not reached at the weekend, a joint agreement could no longer be avoided.
Markus Söder now apparently just has to watch how the majorities are shifting more and more in his direction. It had been like this all week. If you deduct Laschet and Söder from the seven prime ministers with a CDU and CSU party membership card, five remain. They all gathered behind Laschet in the presidium on Monday. In the course of the week, the head of government of Saxony-Anhalt, Reiner Haseloff, gave way to the pressure of his base and indirectly backed Söder – with the reference to how important surveys are for the decision. Then came the Saarland Prime Minister Tobias Hans, who suddenly no longer wanted the party leadership’s vote to be understood as a commitment to Laschet. Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer also seems to be swaying under pressure from his regional association. “This is a very exciting process that we are currently experiencing,” he told the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. “This is important for Germany and it has to be mastered with great responsibility.” That doesn’t sound like a firm commitment to Laschet. Even the Schleswig-Holstein head of government Daniel Günther, who bravely stands behind Laschet in public, knows that there is great longing for Söder in his regional association.
There are still loud helpers
There remains the Hessian Prime Minister and CDU doyen Volker Bouffier. He’s not just trying to find an agreement, he’s fighting for Laschet. But Bouffier is experienced and realistic enough to know that at some point the point will come when you can no longer fight the support in the CDU and the electorate for Söder.
However, the CDU boss still has strong and vocal helpers. For days, Laschet has been receiving support from a CDU man, whose fans are certainly mostly allowed to hit the Söder camp: Friedrich Merz. At the beginning of the year Merz was inferior to the North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister in the struggle for the CDU federal chairmanship. On Saturday, Merz was set up as a CDU direct candidate for the federal election at a party conference in Arnsberg. Once again Merz supported his former rival on this occasion. After the federal party conference in mid-January, he said that he supported Laschet. “Nothing changed about that.”
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