FFriedrich Merz wants to rebuild the top of the CDU. It was already known that he wanted to become chairman, he confirmed it on Tuesday afternoon in a press conference at the Hotel Estrel in Berlin. But he wants to bring about an amendment to the statutes so that the general secretary will have a deputy in the future. Specifically, Merz is planning with a deputy. He brought her with him right away, it is Christina Stumpp from Baden-Württemberg who was newly elected to the Bundestag. The former Berlin Health Senator Mario Czaja is to become Secretary General. He showed that he “can campaign,” said Merz. There is a good argument for this: Czaja directly won his East Berlin constituency, which was held by the Left Party for a long time.
With the two personal details, Merz has set an example in several ways. Stumpp celebrated her 34th birthday on Tuesday, her son is one year old, Czaja is 46 years old and talked about his eight-year-old child. Merz said that being “young in the head” is not a question of your date of birth, but he also reminded you that he will be 70 years old in the next federal election. In order to win back young voters, who had often voted for the FDP and the Greens in the federal elections, he needs young comrades-in-arms at the top of the party.
At the same time, Stumpp is a signal for a stronger presence of women in the party. As for the issue, differences became apparent at the press conference on Tuesday. Stumpp was rather skeptical about a quota, Merz called it the “second best solution”, which he would not ignore, but he would prefer a better solution. Czaja, on the other hand, was open to a quota.
Regionally, the presidential candidate from North Rhine-Westphalia has covered a wide field with his two comrades-in-arms and with Czaja sent a signal in the direction of East Germany. Should the three be elected to the top of the CDU, the accusation that the party only had men from North Rhine-Westphalia at the top would at least initially be weakened. Merz, who is the third attempt at the chair in three years, also presented other personal details. He supported it if the current CDU deputy chairman, Silvia Breher, ran for office again, if the Schleswig-Holstein Minister of Education, Karin Prien, were to join, and if the Saxon Prime Minister, Michael Kretschmer, and the chairman of the SME Union, Carsten Linnemann, were to succeed. Linnemann and Merz would give the economic wing heavy weight in the party leadership, Czaja belongs to the employee wing, but would have to develop some weight in order to balance the two heavyweights.
“No shift to the right, no axis shift”
Merz answered two frequently asked questions of his own accord on Tuesday. Should he be elected, it would not mean a “shift to the right, no shift in the axis” in the CDU. Likewise, it would not be a preliminary decision with a view to the federal election in 2025. He was referring to the candidacy for chancellor. However, he has not ruled out any more than the attempt to become chairman of the parliamentary group. Rather, he avoided unambiguity.
There was also movement in the competition with which Merz is dealing. Like Merz, the foreign politician Norbert Röttgen received the necessary support from his district association for the candidacy. At the end of last week in Berlin, he had presented himself as a candidate before the federal press conference, without any formal support from the Rhein-Sieg district association.
The third applicant who appeared surprisingly, Chancellery Minister Helge Braun, had been sent into the race by his Gießen district association before the weekend, but he has not yet looked for the big Berlin applicant platform. The application period in the race for the CDU chairmanship ends on Wednesday. Then the candidates have the opportunity to introduce themselves to the CDU members, whereby the party headquarters will help.