Merz before election as CDU faction leader

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Union parliamentary group leader Ralph Brinkhaus (r) has decided not to run again for the parliamentary group chairmanship in favor of the future CDU chairman Friedrich Merz. © Michael Kappeler/Kay Nietfeld/dpa

Union faction leader Brinkhaus has pulled the ripcord. If he was a candidate against the new CDU leader Merz, he would hardly have had a chance. The Union leadership pays him respect.

Berlin – With Ralph Brinkhaus giving up the parliamentary group chairmanship, the CDU will be spared a power struggle before the state elections in the spring. The 53-year-old announced on Thursday evening that he would vacate his post for Friedrich Merz.

In a letter to the CDU and CSU members of parliament available to the German Press Agency in Berlin, Brinkhaus proposes electing the new parliamentary group leader on February 15, during the next regular week of parliamentary sessions. It is considered certain that the Union MPs will then choose Merz. The future CDU leader will also be the leader of the opposition in Parliament.

internal disputes

Brinkhaus was originally elected until the end of April. With his move, he avoids another power struggle in the CDU before the important votes in Saarland, Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia in March and May. The CDU heads of government in the three federal states are fighting for re-election. In the Union it was feared that new internal disputes would have deterred supporters of the Christian Democrats, especially after the power struggles of the past few years – for example over the CDU presidency and the chancellor candidacy.

Top politicians in the Union expressed their appreciation for Brinkhaus’ step. CDU general secretary Paul Ziemiak wrote on Twitter: “Great respect for @rbrinkhaus and thanks for the good work as chairman of @cducsubt in difficult times.” In the ZDF program “Markus Lanz” Ziemiak welcomed the fact that there was now clarity and there is no conflict. “Friedrich Merz does both. Of course, that will also simplify things if you have party chairmanship and parliamentary group chairmanship in one hand.” CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt said via Twitter: “This is a forward-looking and highly respectable decision by Ralph Brinkhaus. In doing so, he places himself fully at the service of the parliamentary group and party. That deserves the greatest respect and recognition.”

Merz was elected future CDU chairman by delegates at a party conference last Saturday with a very good result. Previously, he had prevailed against two competitors in a member survey. The election still has to be confirmed by a postal vote. The result will be announced on Monday.

“In any case, no headwind”

Merz had left open until the end whether he would also take up the post of parliamentary group leader in order to secure the role of opposition leader in the Bundestag. That’s what the then CDU leader Angela Merkel did in 2002 – and ousted Merz from this post after just two years.

Merz said to the parliamentary group leader on ZDF on Saturday evening: “That is a question that is not on the agenda at the moment. And if it’s on the agenda, we’ll discuss it.” When asked whether the election result gave him momentum, he added: “It’s definitely not a headwind.” Brinkhaus recently said: “If the parliamentary group wants it and if the faction elects me, so I will be happy to continue doing this after April 30.”

Merz also expressed his appreciation for Brinkhaus’s waiver in the evening. “Even if we had different opinions on the matter, I would like to thank Ralph Brinkhaus for his willingness to put the two tasks of the chairman in the party and parliamentary group in one hand,” explained Merz when asked by the dpa. He added: “We are thus bundling the work in the party and parliamentary group.” Brinkhaus remains “an active and important member of our parliamentary group, I will be happy to take advantage of his skills and support.”

Upcoming state elections

Brinkhaus wrote that Merz had informed him that he would definitely apply for the group chairmanship. “It’s no secret that Friedrich Merz and I have different opinions regarding the chairmanship of the parliamentary group, which we have not been able to resolve. I think we both have good reasons for our positions,” the letter continued. “There must be no dissent that harms the Union – especially in view of the upcoming state elections, the results of which are so decisive for us.” that is, to February 15, 2022, to be brought forward”. He will then no longer run for office. dpa

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