CDU members were also present at the secret meeting of right-wing extremists in Potsdam. Friedrich Merz wants to exclude her from the party. It’s not the first time that the party leader has played tough Fritz – he has to.
Friedrich Merz was not yet CDU chairman, he was just making his third attempt when he said a sentence by which he has been judged ever since. “If any of us raise our hand to work with the AfD,” said Merz in December 2021, “then there will be a party expulsion process the next day.”
Said. But also done? Two years later, the CDU leader’s firewall record can show some best practice examples. And a bit of messing around.
Merz has no illusions, as we could see on Sunday evening in Caren Miosga’s new ARD talk show, that CDU politicians at the local level have been working with the AfD for a long time now and then. And he does little to prevent these cases – believing that there is no other way if potholes have to be filled and zebra crossings have to be built. It seemed as if Merz wanted to add an asterisk to his sentence from 2021: Does not apply in the case of potholes, zebra crossings and other small local political details.
But how far does problem solving go, and when does it become about beliefs? What about the pothole in front of the refugee home? What about the zebra crossing in front of the alternative youth center on the expressway? Yes, municipalities are often about pragmatism. But anyone who declares local councils to be ideology-free zones is making it easy for themselves. Anyone who keeps finding new reasons why the clear edge cannot reach into the depths of democracy is just fooling around.
Merz does not shy away from party exclusion proceedings
This is even more noticeable with Merz because he appears determined and organized when it comes to high-profile cases. The CDU leader doesn’t hesitate when he sees the limit being crossed. He is fulfilling what he promised in 2021: party expulsion proceedings the next day. The past week has shown this once again. CDU members were also present at the secret meeting of right-wing extremists in Potsdam that was uncovered by “Correctiv”.
This is initially a problem for Merz. Because it proves that the Union family still includes people who are at home in very right-wing circles. But it is also a belated Christmas present for the CDU leadership. Because Merz and his general Carsten Linnemann now have the opportunity to throw these people out of the party once and for all.
An expulsion process is underway against a member who was there in Potsdam, Merz said on Sunday at Miosga. He doesn’t know whether more CDU members were involved. If that were the case, they would have “no place” in the CDU.
As soon as he was in office, Merz took action as CDU leader
That sounds like a given. All you have to do is ignore for a moment how long exclusion procedures were considered the most difficult undertaking that a party leadership could undertake. The path of such a procedure is long and rocky. There are high legal hurdles, constantly new headlines – and often a handful of loyalists in their own ranks who loudly proclaim their loyalty to the delinquent. As a party leader, you have to be capable of suffering to do something like that to yourself voluntarily.
It took the SPD three attempts to get rid of the agitator Thilo Sarrazin once and for all. And it was only against internal resistance that the Union managed to exclude Martin Hohmann from the Hesse CDU after he gave a speech on the German culture of remembrance, for which “controversial” would be a trivializing attribution.
But Merz didn’t hesitate for long at the beginning of 2022 when Max Otte, CDU member and head of the already very right-wing conservative “Values Union”, ran for the office of Federal President for the even more right-wing AfD. There was no question for the new party leader at the time: no compromises. Ciao, goodbye and goodbye!
The election in Thuringia will be a test for the CDU
The CDU leader stuck to this course and, a year later, initiated party expulsion proceedings against former head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution Hans-Georg Maaßen, Otte’s successor at the head of the “Union of Values”. The CDU leadership was not impressed by its first defeat before the district party court, filed a complaint and went to the next instance. That’s where the process lies now.
Maaßen, in turn, is now making things easy for Merz by founding his party, and not just for his own exclusion process, which can be considered completed. With a resolution of incompatibility with membership in the “Union of Values,” the CDU can get rid of an entire group on the right-wing fringe at the next party conference.
Merz plays tough Fritz, also because he knows what lies ahead for him this fall. In the state elections in the east, especially in Thuringia, there is a risk of a result that could put the Union in the tricky situation when forming a government that one or another state politician could look to the far right, as was the case in 2019. The then CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was made aware of her complete powerlessness and helplessness. Shortly afterwards she gave up.
So if Merz now sharpens his profile on the firewall, he will build up the authority and credibility that he will still need.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.