What happened to icebreakers
What happens if...? The chaos days at the CDU and CSU
The memorable Union faction meeting on Tuesday brought no clarification. It only showed how torn and divided the two sister parties are. The following are possible scenarios in the historical party process over the legacy of long-time Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The arduous way to the decision
The half-life of the considerations is not long. On Monday, the CSU wanted to clarify the K question with a negotiating delegation with seven people. On Wednesday that no longer seemed certain.
The first CSU idea to join the conversation with party leader Markus Söder, general secretary Markus Blume, the regional group leader in the Bundestag, Alexander Dobrindt, as well as two CSU representatives from Bavaria and the Bundestag, did not initially solidify. If the CDU were to complete this in mirror image, believe it or not, 14 people would have to negotiate - this is a variable known from coalition negotiations, but not when it comes to the decision between two people.
The CDU is not interested in a large group. Anyway, Laschet thinks that he can sort it out with Söder on his own. Because: He, Laschet, wants to be a candidate for chancellor and has obtained the approval of the CDU's top bodies. From his point of view, he doesn't have to negotiate a lot. Originally, Söder had acknowledged that the older sister would get the job if she expressed her support for her husband.
When the decision would be made was not clear on Wednesday either. Some say Friday, others say weekend. Likewise, it was reported that Söder would like to wait for the next polls on Thursday and Friday in order to then go into the conversation - he suspected freshly strengthened.
Speaking of which
For a short time, the CSU had raised the idea of a member survey on Monday. Söder then said there was no more time for that. That suggests that he would have done it otherwise.
At the end of 2019, he had strongly advised against a member survey about the candidacy for chancellor. His reasoning: "Anyone who leads endless personal discussions only unsettles their voters." The CDU then also rejected an application by the Junge Union, the youth organization of the CDU and CSU, for a primary election of the candidate for chancellor. At that time there was still agreement: Traditionally, the CDU chairperson has the first access to the candidacy for chancellor.
Armin Laschet has the presidium and the executive committee of the party behind him. But at the grassroots level and in the parliamentary group there is rumbling in the CDU. The Konrad-Adenauer-Haus is particularly angry with the Söder fans in the parliamentary group in Berlin, Hamburg and Baden-Württemberg. There, the CDU failed one state election after the other, and then members of the Bundestag called from there, fearing for their own mandate, for Markus Söder from the smaller sister party.
Many of today's Söder fans among the Christian Democrats were previously supporters of Friedrich Merz, i.e. a more conservative course. Laschet embodies Angela Merkel's middle course.
The strongest support for Laschet comes from his home country NRW. Many saw him there as a moderator. As a politician who listens and lets other opinions count. You say that CSU politicians have no respect for Söder, but fear. One does not want to be led like that, neither in a party nor in the country.
A CDU member told the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND) that all hell was going on at the base in NRW. Such an emotionality has never been experienced before. Söder is "horny for power", "a good-for-nothing character" and sacrifices the CDU for its own interests before the federal election. It is shameful that members of the Bundestag did not see through that. You should know that Söder will do the same to you when he comes to the helm.
Other CDU politicians read out letters of complaint, according to which local politicians did not want to campaign for Laschet and the CDU would not re-elect if he were to become a candidate for chancellor. Söder is the "doer" and only with him will the Union come back to the Chancellery.
What happens if Laschet loses the power struggle?
Armin Laschet's political career would in all likelihood be over if he didn't prevail against Söder now. Losing the fight for the candidacy for chancellor as the newly elected CDU leader would irreparably damage his authority as chairman of the largest people's party in the country.
Doubts about his suitability and debates about the election of the new chairman were probably not long in coming. And that would also damage the confidence in his stamina as the North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister. The next state election is already in 2022.
The CDU says that everything is at stake in the decision on the K question for the 60-year-old. And that's exactly why he is now betting everything on this one card: the victory over Söder. He is much more capable of suffering than Söder and his stamina is legendary.
If he wins this power struggle, that would be his best qualification for chancellorship. Because with that he would have shown everyone that he was a man who just stood still. The irony: In the Laschet camp it is said that the CDU should not damage Söder too much now. Because the Union must stand together and they need the man from Bavaria.
What happens if Söder loses the power struggle?
Söder missed the right time to withdraw. There was that after his announcement on Sunday that he would definitely submit to a vote of the CDU and "without resentment". On Monday, the CDU leaders unanimously stood behind Laschet. It would have been the signal for Söder. Now the CSU boss is the one who can be accused of breaking a word or using trickery by means of unclear communication.
So Söder is now also out of the race damaged in any case. As in the case of refugee policy, it has again made a significant contribution to dividing the Union. However, withdrawing would not harm him. He would remain CSU chairman and Bavarian Prime Minister, now with the additional label "Chancellor format". This can only be useful for the state election in 2023, in which the CSU wants to try to bring back the lost absolute majority.
If this succeeds in times of growing competition from all sides in Bavaria - from free voters, AfD and Greens - Söder would finally be accepted into the small circle of CSU saints.
Remaining in Bavaria is probably the safer option on the way to fame: It would not be certain whether the Union will win the federal elections, even with Söder at the top. He would then return to Bavaria as another defeated CSU chancellor candidate. And with a Chancellor Söder, who would have to get along with coalition partners, the previous bestseller of the CSU would disappear: the Bavaria-centered uncompromising attitude.
And what about Friedrich Merz?
Hardly any CDU top politician has found such clear words for Laschet in the past few days as Merz - on the contrary: Many remained conspicuously covered, whether in an attempt not to irritate the CSU any further or out of uncertainty about the outcome.
Merz, who was defeated by Laschet in the presidential election after a grueling fight in January, went to the full: In a letter to his constituency, he spoke out in favor of his former competitor and made massive accusations of the CSU. The do not keep their promises, damage the CDU leader and the party at the same time.
Merz can only benefit from it: He presents himself as a good loser and loyal party friend, he has never had that reputation. Most recently, he had irritated his fans himself when he demanded the Ministry of Economic Affairs for himself after the party congress defeat.
Now selflessness is Merz ‘new credo: He emphasizes that in his constituency CDU, which he would like to be nominated as a Bundestag candidate this weekend instead of the current direct candidate, some are already for Söder.
If Laschet becomes a candidate and chancellor, he should remember Merz with some benevolence when filling posts. For all other cases - a candidacy of Söder and / or a defeat of the Union in the election - he has improved his starting position, for example to reach for the Union parliamentary group chairmanship.
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