Party convention in Berlin: CDU on course for self-discovery


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As of: 06/17/2023 5:34 p.m

How is the CDU positioned – also in contrast to the AfD, which is popular in the polls? This was discussed at the party convention. While Chairman Merz wants to “watch the people in the mouth”, his deputy wants a spirit of optimism above all.

What does the CDU stand for? The party took the time this weekend to talk about this question in principle. But the road to renewal is long, and it begins with self-criticism. Carsten Linnemann, as deputy chairman responsible for the new policy of the partyadmits: The CDU was no longer good enough, which is why it lost the federal election.

Even the members didn’t know during the election campaign what their own content to advertise with, that’s the finding. The basic program should change that. If it is up to CDU Vice Linnemann, you can wake up the members at night in the future and they will immediately list the three most important points. But before that happens, the party still has a lot of work to do.

“Positive Capitalism” and “German Dream”

The party has now talked about its future guidelines with 500 guests. There were suggestions from social and youth associations, trade unions and industry. Tanja Gönner, General Manager of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), promotes the social market economy and trust in large and medium-sized companies: “Positive capitalism contributes to prosperity.”

The President of the German Caritas Association, Eva Maria Welskop-Deffaa, reacts to this: Instead of prosperity, she wants to focus on “well-being” for everyone – for young and old, for men and women, for rich and poor. And for people of all origins, adds Ruben Giuliano, chairman of the youth parliament initiative: The CDU must make people feel that they can achieve anything, no matter where they come from. He hopes that the term “German Dream” will make it into the basic programme.

Dissociation from the AfD demanded

The CDU invited not only social voices, but also a representative of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, Ralf Fücks. The CDU must be the political alternative to the current government and make that clear in the basic program, says Fücks. For a conservative party in these times, he sees the challenge of ensuring “security in times of change”. The majority of society should not perceive the many changes as a threat and should isolate itself, the CDU should take people with it instead.

CDU leader Friedrich Merz can only nod in agreement. The Greens politician Fücks is campaigning to differentiate himself in terms of content, but not to break ties with his party – as a possible future coalition partner in the federal government. On the other hand, the CDU must remain clear with the AfD and should not adopt their language. There is applause in the hall, but Merz defends himself against this accusation: “Looking at the people’s mouths is democracy. Talking at the people’s mouths is populism.”

Behind the scenes, the party is busy with the AfD poll high. How can the CDU benefit more from the fact that there is such a great dissatisfaction with the governing coalition gives? The debate will continue about which tone the CDU uses, as well as about the key points of content.

The program is scheduled to be completed in 2024

Ten specialist commissions are currently collecting the ideas of the CDU for the economy, climate protection, migration and social affairs. District and city associations are to discuss the proposals in the coming months. There was also a member survey, in which 66,000 of the approximately 380,000 CDU members took part. The vast majority named “freedom” as the most important goal. That shows that it is about rather general guidelines that should form the basis for CDU policy over the next ten years. Not formulated in the same way as an election program, but with some concrete suggestions.

Linnemann cites three examples that he, at least, could list in his sleep: a mandatory year of service for society, a basic job obligation for those who are able to work and the possibility of continuing to work tax-free even after retirement.

The CDU wants to decide on the finished basic program at the party conference in a year’s time. For Linnemann, the most important thing is to spread a spirit of optimism: the CDU must inspire courage and optimism for the future.

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