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Friedrich Merz: Why the CDU leader was bored at the party conference

Friedrich Merz: Why the CDU leader was bored at the party conference

It wasn’t a fireworks display: Friedrich Merz, Mr. Klartext of the CDU, gave a surprisingly dull speech at the party conference. There may be an idea behind this. The lightning analysis.

This much is already clear before the CDU leader’s speech: the choreography of the party conference is right. Kai Wegner, Governing Mayor of Berlin, speaks directly in front of Friedrich Merz. Host Wegner manages to skillfully send the 1001 delegates back to sleep for a moment. He meanders a bit through the balance sheet of his city government. It’s yawn-inducing. But of course it’s great for Merz. The field is prepared. The hall is now eagerly awaiting a few rousing sentences for the Christian democratic soul.

And? Did Merz deliver? Here are the most important findings from the speech in the star-Flash analysis:

No looking back

Merz begins his speech with gentle navel gazing. The view is forward, of course. The CDU leader praises his party’s “new self-confidence”. “With this program we are immediately ready to take over government responsibility for Germany again.” The altitude is quickly reached: This is not just a party conference, no, it is the opening event of Operation “Back to the Chancellery”.

The “brief look back,” as Merz calls it, only goes back two years. So only as long as the Merz era lasts. Merz praises party friends across all lower levels. That’s always good, think about the basics first.

As much statesman as necessary, but no chancellor speech yet

Merz appears statesmanlike as usual, but he doesn’t overdo it. He doesn’t seem nervous, speaks understandably – and remains in the classic CDU tone. He dutifully goes through topic by topic, from civil rights (abolish!) to climate protection (“End the ghost ride!”). Merz recalls the successes of the past, quotes Ludwig Erhard, Norbert Lammert, Helmut Kohl and Wolfgang Schäuble. He criticizes others’ faith in the state and calls for an “agenda for the hardworking.”

Yes, you’ve heard it all before. This is hardly surprising. There is little of its own in it. On the other hand, that’s probably his idea: Germans already get enough surprises from traffic lights. Merz wants to offer a counter-proposal. Reliability, principles, order. He can be sure of the trust of his party, now he is courting the trust of the voters. To paraphrase the work philosopher Stromberg: Let dad do it!

Friedrich Merz remarks

Merz became CDU leader in order to make the party more edgy and controversial. For a long time he played the personified alternative to Angela Merkel. You don’t hear much about it in his speech. Merz does not mention the former Chancellor by name, but at times seems as if he had taken a workshop with her in a state of boredom. He touches on internal security without seeming too much like a sheriff, calls for reforms in state services without calling for a socio-political revolution, criticizes the traffic lights without constantly working on them.

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Merz is sometimes conservative, sometimes social, sometimes liberal, doing exactly what many of his die-hard fans always accused Merkel of doing. Is Merz having a bad day? May be. But maybe it’s just calculation. Times have also changed for Merz. When he was vying for the presidency three years ago, he needed a disruptive narrative. Now that he wants to lead the Union towards the Chancellery, he must not give the impression that he wants to change everything. Now he must embody the people’s party in its entirety.

Friedrich Merz embraces the internal critics

One question before the speech was: How would Merz react to the competition within the party? For example, Schleswig-Holstein Prime Minister Daniel Günther, who shortly before the meeting once again called on his party to dare to take a more Merkel-centre course. Or NRW Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst, who at best half-heartedly denied rumors that he could imagine running for chancellor himself.

At the Estrel Hotel, Merz opts for the hugging strategy. Right at the beginning of his speech, he extensively celebrates those party members “who won the elections.” First he names Günther and Wüst, then declines from the state level down to the municipalities, for example to Christian Herrgott, who narrowly prevailed against his AfD competitor in the district election in the Saale-Orla district.

He also praises Bundestag member Serap Güler, who, according to a “Spiegel” report, shouted at Merz months ago out of outrage over her alleged disloyalty. The party leader expressly thanks her and the Thuringian CDU leader Mario Voigt “for the great, intensive, collegial and friendly work” on the basic program. Merz, the conciliator. In doing so, he takes the wind out of his opponent’s sails at the party conference.

There are also verbal caresses for CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt. How convenient that he is not considered the biggest friend of CSU boss Markus Söder, who always honors Merz with little dirty things from Munich.

By the way, Söder is coming tomorrow.

Source: Stern

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