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.
- The Union will probably not decide on its candidate for chancellor until May – Armin Laschet or Markus Söder is presumably the question.
- Laschet has had difficult days. And possibly in front of you. The first irritations are growing in the CDU.
- There is suspicion in the room that the CDU leader is leaving Söder too strong. Party sizes are already expressing a clear chancellor prognosis.
Berlin / Munich – The triumph had been a long time coming – but it came: In January Armin Laschet was chosen as the new CDU leader after what was probably the longest election campaign in the party’s history. Certainly also a result of meticulous preparation. But irritation is slowly growing among the Christian Democrats: does Laschet not have a viable plan for the time up to the general election?
Some in the party now see Laschet’s chancellor skins floating away. In favor of Markus Söder. Is the new party leader making a mistake that his predecessor failed to make? But there may also be a rather not entirely unreliable election campaign calculation behind the reluctance.
Armin Laschet: CDU boss is in a difficult phase – is he repeating AKK’s mistake?
Laschet is on the road a lot. For example, in the CDU state and district associations on the road, sometimes on site, mostly online. He gives that MittelstandsMagazin, the organ of the important economic wing in his party, an interview on the reduction of bureaucracy as a key issue in the election campaign. And every now and then he is available to answer questions from the media – on weekends for example the SWR, including a telling thesis on the selection of the candidate for chancellor. A good four weeks after his official confirmation as head of the CDU, the NRW Prime Minister is trying hard to unite the party after his narrow victory against Friedrich Merz.
So much effort that some in the CDU fear that Laschet might make a mistake similar to Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer before him. In the first months after her election in December 2018, she had concentrated so much on integrating the Merz troops that her own supporters felt neglected. It is astonishing that three weeks before the first state elections of the year Laschet has relatively little media coverage nationwide, can now be heard in the CDU.
Chancellor wrestling in the Union: Söder has the reins in hand when it comes to Corona
The first grumbling that is heard behind the scenes has another reason. In public, it is said, Laschet too often leaves the field to his Union rivals for the candidacy for chancellor. In the past few weeks, TV viewers have sometimes been able to get the impression that CSU boss Markus Söder in particular determines the course of the Union in the discussion about how to deal with the corona pandemic. Too often he was seen on talk shows.
Laschet would probably contradict the impression that he has too little public presence. In addition, there is still the work as Prime Minister of the largest federal state and the corona pandemic, the fight against which takes up a lot of time. And from the regional associations, it is said, there is a lot of support for the new chairman.
On this Monday it is again Secretary General Paul Ziemiak who, after the meetings of the CDU top bodies, explains what the party has been discussing – Laschet himself refrains from placing himself in the limelight. A little annoyed, Ziemiak then explains at the press conference that according to the rules of the CDU, the Secretary General generally provides information about the meetings.
Chancellor question unresolved: CDU misses announcements from Laschet – and there is a risk of flops in the state elections
That’s true, but three weeks before the important state elections in Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate, these are not normal times for the CDU. Find at least some in the party. Laschet should often use the stage after the meetings to classify a few things, to give the party leadership and messages.
If you ask around in the CDU executive committee, the assumption quickly arises that Laschet’s reluctance to prevent him from being held jointly liable for the impending defeat of the sometimes unhappy top candidate Susanne Eisenmann in Baden-Württemberg. And even if the CDU is currently ahead of the SPD in surveys in Rhineland-Palatinate – it is not to be expected that top candidate Christian Baldauf will be able to drive the popular Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD) out of office.
It will probably not be particularly good news that Laschet will have to explain in the foyer of the party headquarters on the Monday after the elections in three weeks. That is not nice, especially at the start of a super election year – even if it would then mean that the results had country-specific reasons.
Laschet in the criticism: What does the CDU stand for? But the party is (still) behind its new boss
But it’s not just about the elections when you talk to party leaders about Laschet. Although the new chairman reacted well to issues in the first few weeks of office, it is said – Merz fans also speak of sovereign appearances. Laschet’s reaction to the US election and its chances for the transatlantic alliance or the direct rejection of easing tendencies in the debt brake after an advance from the Chancellery is mentioned. But one has not yet seen any major public actions. Last week Laschet made big headlines with a small appointment – but they were unpleasant.
Even internally, Laschet has so far barely revealed where the party’s journey should go with him, is the criticism. Actually, the chairman should quickly come up with an idea, a long-term perspective, what the CDU now stands for with him and what it can orientate itself on. Instead, it is all about daily business and, above all, the fight against the corona pandemic.
But despite all the criticism: when the question arises who will lead the Union as a candidate for chancellor in the federal election campaign – Laschet, or rather CSU boss Söder – the man from North Rhine-Westphalia is well received even among critics. Despite all the bad polls.
Chancellor Laschet? “If the Chancellor does not say …” – CDU board member gives forecast
Söder, as the unwritten law in the Union is called, would have to be asked by the larger sister party and its chairman to run as candidate for chancellor. Despite the good poll numbers for Söder, this is rather unlikely in the Union. And besides, there is currently no one in the party leadership who would stand up for Söder. If the Chancellor does not say that Laschet cannot do it – and that is not to be expected – “it is coming towards him”, believes someone from the executive committee who has known the party for a long time.
And what is Laschet’s relationship with the Chancellor? Both had made it clear early on how they saw the division of tasks. Merkel is responsible for the fight against the corona pandemic and its management as well as for the lines of the government up to the federal election in September. That should give Laschet a lot of legroom for the prospects in the next legislative period – with him as Chancellor.
Some saw the division of labor a bit tipped when Laschet at the Baden-Wuerttemberg CDU Economic Council protested against too much paternalism from the citizens in the pandemic and warned that “one cannot always invent new limit values to prevent life takes place again “. Some saw this as a clear distancing from Merkel. Laschet had to laboriously explain himself in various interviews. But meanwhile the board of directors says again: “The division of labor works.” What does that mean for Söder? Wait. (dpa / fn)