The Konrad Adenauer House is in a hangover mood. In the hall of the CDU party headquarters in Berlin's Tiergarten district, has gathered only a small group of journalists. Here, where employees and party officials have already celebrated many an election victory, no one from the party celebrities is to be seen this evening. This is not only due to the Corona conditions. For the CDU there is no reason to cheer.
It is at Gen Paul Ziemiak, to comment on the defeats of the Christian Democrats in Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Wurttemberg. "This is not a good election night for the CDU," he says: "We would have wished for better results." But he sees the cause in. There was no mood of change there, he said: "In the crisis, people trust the incumbent heads of government."
State elections: Losses for CDU were predictable
The losses did not come as a surprise to the CDU: even before the mask affair involving two Union parliamentarians who enriched themselves by brokering contracts with protective equipment, things were not looking good for the CDU in either federal state. But now in Baden-Wurttemberg it is likely to be even from the Government The CDU/CSU is flying in the face of a crisis in which it has recently become a mere junior partner. Of all places, the CDU has suffered a historic defeat in the southwest, which has long been in deep black and whose state parliament results have always been above the national average.
Also read the commentary: State elections – A bitter setback for the CDU/CSU
Setback for the CDU/CSU: The scapegoat principle prevails in politics
Already in the afternoon Ziemiak, the federal managing director and other leading coworkers sat down together and discussed, how one deals with the expectable exit and which language regulation one makes for it. The host himself, CDU leader Armin Laschet, Was not at the party headquarters on Sunday night. But the fact that he does not appear before the press has nothing to do with cowardice before the enemy.
Rather, unlike other parties, the CDU has a tradition of leaving election night to the secretary general and the state associations concerned. Laschet will not face questions from the press until Monday afternoon – after the meeting of the Presidium and the Federal Executive Board – with the top candidate in Baden-Wurttemberg, Susanne Eisenmann, and the Rhineland-Palatinate challenger Christian Baldauf.
CDU candidacy for chancellor: Who will be the top candidate??
It will not be a pleasant appointment. Admittedly, Laschet is not responsible for the defeats. He has only been in office as the new CDU leader for 50 days, and has not yet made any serious mistakes in that time. But in politics, the scapegoat principle prevails: bad results always stick to the party leadership as well. Laschet still has some time before the Bundestag elections. But soon after Easter, the decision is expected to be made on who the CDU/CSU will put forward as its top candidate in the race to succeed Angela Merkel Sends.
Two factors decide whether it will be Laschet. It will be very important to see whether he now distinguishes himself as a crisis manager – just as Merkel once did in the CDU's party donation affair. At the time, she stood up to her former patron Helmut Kohl and was able to win with the image of the reformer.
Is Markus Soder now exploiting the weakness of the CDU?
The second question is how the Bavarian premier Markus Soder behaves. Will he use the CDU's weakness to make clear his own ambitions for the chancellorship? Or will he shy away from the risk of being defeated as a top candidate and having to return to Bavaria as a toothless lion??
Whoever leads the CDU/CSU into the election campaign will have to contend with the problem that the events of the past few days have revived the old image of the party of cronyism and nepotism. The political style that seemed to have been overcome with the election of Angela Merkel as party leader has returned with force with the scandals surrounding mask deals and questionable business ties to foreign regimes.
The "declaration of honor" that the head of the Bundestag parliamentary group demanded of all CDU and CSU members is not sufficient for this purpose. Although all members have signed that they have not directly or indirectly earned money from brokering deals with protective equipment. But one of the signatories, Thuringian MP Mark Hauptmann, not only had to resign his seat shortly afterwards because of questionable business contacts with Azerbaijan. On Sunday it became known that he was also involved in mask deals, for which his district association is said to have received a donation of 7000 euros.
Union: Stricter requirements for party funding, stricter rules of conduct
On Sunday evening, a group of about 25 party officials has now Resolution sent to the leadership of the party and parliamentary group. In the three-page paper, which is present to this editorship, among other things stricter editions for the party financing and stricter rules of behavior for delegates are demanded. Thus the receipt of honorariums or donations for lectures, which stand in connection with the delegate activity, is to be forbidden. It should also no longer be possible to conceal money flows by setting up limited liability companies.
In addition, the signatories – like the party executive committee before them – are committed to upgrading bribery from a misdemeanor to a felony. For those affected, this would mean not only the loss of their transitional allowance after leaving the Bundestag, but also the loss of their (re-)eligibility for election.
Signed the paper among other things the Schleswig-Holstein Minister of Education Karin Prien, the Members of the Bundestag Uwe Schummer, Roderich Kiesewetter, Peter Tauber and Heribert Hirte, the Member of the European Parliament Dennis Radtke and several district chairmen.
One of the initiators is Johannes Wiegelmann, the CDU's direct candidate for the Bundestag in the Main-Kinzig district of Hesse. He wants the resolution to be understood not as competition, but as a supplement to a similar list of demands that the leadership of the Union in the Bundestag presented on Friday. One supports this expressly, stressed Wiegelmann to this editorship. The resolution is a "contribution to the debate": "As Christian Democrats, we have the opportunity to regain credibility and trust in the debate that is taking place with bold, yet realistic reforms and to protect the integrity of our constitutional bodies."
New resolution: warning against signing?
But not everyone in the party views such efforts with enthusiasm. According to information from our editorial team, the head of the Junge Union, Tilman Kuban, warned fellow party members in e-mails not to sign the paper. He considers such an approach "very dangerous and unhelpful". The party leadership also plans to present a reform proposal on Monday. Secretary General Paul Ziemiak spoke out in favor of this this week in a switch with all CDU secretaries general of Germany.
The poor start to the Super election year is not a good omen. A look at history shows, however, that it is still possible to win federal elections. In January 2013, the CDU suffered heavy losses in the state elections in Lower Saxony. The black-yellow coalition was replaced by a red-green alliance led by Stephan Weil (SPD). Despite this, the Union won the Bundestag election in the fall of 2013. The difference to 2021: Angela Merkel ran again then. Next September, the Union will have to win without them.