The unrest in the CDU over the statements made by its chairman Merz on how to deal with the AfD was great. Hesse’s Prime Minister Rhein spoke in the daily topics now from “misunderstandings”. There is a “very deep ditch between the AfD and the CDU,” he said.
Hesse’s Prime Minister Boris Rhein does not see CDU chairman Friedrich Merz as damaged because of his statements on how to deal with the AfD. He said so in an interview with daily topics. There were “misunderstandings” and “misinterpretations”. In the end, Merz made his position clear. Incidentally, Rhein made it clear that Merz himself brought about the decision of the party executive on the incompatibility with the AfD.
Rhein, who has to pass state elections in Hesse in the fall, spoke of a “wild debate” about Merz’s statements. Now, however, “a lot of clarity” has been created. “There is a clear, unambiguous and also very thick firewall to the AfD,” said Rhein. “The firewall is up and it’s very strong,” he added. And there is not only a dividing line and firewall, but also a “very deep ditch between AfD and CDU”.
Merz: draft resolution the CDU applies
CDU leader Friedrich Merz confirmed in the ZDF summer interview on Sunday that the Union would not cooperate with the AfD. However, he limited this to “legislative bodies” – for example at the European, federal or state level. If a district administrator in Thuringia and a mayor in Saxony-Anhalt were elected by the AfD, then those were democratic elections, said Merz. “We have to accept that. And of course the local parliaments have to look for ways to shape the city, the state, the district together,” he explained in the ZDF summer interview.
However, Merz subsequently received such severe criticism within his own party that he published a clarification on Monday morning in which he qualified his statements. In a dpa interview, Merz called it “completely absurd” to deduce from his words that he had opened the way for cooperation with the AfD at the municipal level. The CDU leader also emphasized via Twitter: “To make it clear again, and I have never said it differently: the decision of the CDU applies. There will also be no cooperation between the CDU and the AfD at the municipal level.
“Right-wing extremists remain right-wing extremists”
The so-called incompatibility resolution of the CDU, to which several party members referred, says, among other things: “Anyone who pleads for a rapprochement or even cooperation with the AfD in the CDU must know that they are approaching a party that deliberately tolerates right-wing extremist ideas, anti-Semitism and racism in its ranks. (…). The CDU rejects any coalitions or similar forms of cooperation with the AfD.”
The Vice President of the Bundestag, Yvonne Magwas, who is also a member of the CDU Presidium, wrote in response to Merz’s statements ZDF-Interview on Twitter: “Whether local council or Bundestag, right-wing radicals remain right-wing radicals. For Christian Democrats, right-wing radicals are always the enemy!” The CDU foreign politician Norbert Röttgen emphasized that his party had decided to ban cooperation with the AfD. “Anyone who wants to change that must find a majority at a federal party conference of the CDU.”
Söder: The AfD is right-wing extremist
Markus Söder, chairman of the sister party CSU, also clearly distanced himself from Merz. “The CSU rejects any cooperation with the AfD – regardless of the political level,” wrote the Bavarian Prime Minister. “Because the AfD is anti-democratic, right-wing extremist and divides our society. That is not compatible with our values.”
The new CDU General Secretary Carsten Linnemann, on the other hand, defended Merz. For his party, cooperation with the AfD is out of the question, he said on Monday evening at an event of the CDU-Hessen in Wiesbaden. Linnemann said Merz had only recently reiterated that as long as he was party leader, there would be no cooperation with the AfD, no matter what level.
Kühnert accuses Union AfD fixation
SPD General Secretary Kevin Kühnert appealed to the Union to focus less on the AfD. “I experience an incredible nervousness in the Union, in which some are almost maniacally fixed on the AfD issue,” said Kühnert of the “Stuttgarter Zeitung” and the “Stuttgarter Nachrichten”. In the Union, the first question to be asked in every debate is: “What does the AfD think and say? How can we react to it?” That has to stop. “The CDU should stop making itself so small as a proud democratic party,” advised Kühnert.
Meanwhile, Bundestag Vice President Katrin Göring-Eckardt (Greens) accused CDU leader Merz of damaging democracy with his statements on the AfD. “Friedrich Merz is riding on the steamer of populism. It’s extremely dangerous,” Göring-Eckardt told the editorial network Germany. “He serves a divisive right-wing populist party instead of asking them about their content. There are enough starting points for this, from cuts in pensions to rejection of the EU.” Because of the lack of criticism, Merz’s backtracking was “not very credible”.
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