Laschet or Söder: Union candidate for Chancellor by vote?

by Thorsten Koch

Possibly, the CDU and CSU parliamentary group will vote in the coming week on whether Armin Laschet (CDU) or Markus Söder (CSU) will run as candidate for German Federal Chancellor for the Union parties, the ‘Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland’ reported. The Hamburg CDU regional chief Christoph Ploß also expressed himself this way. Assuming that no agreement has been reached, the vote should be taken on Tuesday. The Union parliamentary group is the only joint body of the CDU and CSU. Signatures are being collected there so that a vote could take place on Tuesday. The member of the Bundestag Christian von Stetten (CDU) announced on Saturday that there were 70 signatures already and that up to 55 more are expected. The CDU-CSU consists of 245 members of parliament.

Demoscopic numbers in favor of Söder

According to the ZDF Politikbarometer, the CDU is not suffering in public opinion from the power struggle for the candidacy for Chancellor between Laschet and Söder, but has gained three percent and now reaches 31 percent. If federal elections were to take place this Sunday, the Greens would only get 21 percent (minus 2 percent) and the SPD only 14 percent (minus 1 percent). The FDP would remain at 9 percent and the Left at 7 percent. The AfD would lose 1 percent to 11 percent. According to ARD-DeutschlandTrend, 44 percent of German citizens and 72 percent of Union supporters would currently choose Söder. The opinion research institute INSA reported that if Laschet were the Union’s candidate for Chancellor, the CDU-CSU would lose one point to 27 percent. If the voters knew that Söder would be a candidate for Chancellor, the Union would win ten points to 38 percent. “In terms of opinion polls, the Union’s candidate for Chancellor has clearly been answered,” said INSA boss Hermann Binkert.

The district chairman of Rheinhessen-Pfalz, Christian Baldauf (CDU), announced in a press release that there was a “tense atmosphere” on the ground among the CDU members with a clear “opinion in favor of Markus Söder.” Baldauf is also CDU chairman Rhineland-Palatinate. According to its chairman Tilman Kuban, the CDU youth organization ‘Junge Union’ (JU) would support Söder with at least two thirds of the regional branches. According to the ‘Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland,’ there are 12 out of 18 JU regional branches. The JU could vote digitally this coming week.

CDU heads of Federal States mainly for Laschet

Meanwhile, Saxony-Anhalt’s Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff (CDU), who is also a member of the CDU presidium, has campaigned to commit to the Union Chancellor candidate based on the popularity of the population. It is all about giving the Union “the best chance”, not about “personal sympathy.” Whoever the voters let should be a candidate, he pointed out indirectly. A new state parliament will be elected on June 6th in Saxony-Anhalt. The Minister of State for Digital Affairs and Vice-Chairwoman of the CSU, Dorothee Bär, also called for the survey results to be used as a basis for deciding who would be a candidate for chancellor.

Günter Krings, chairman of the North Rhine-Westphalia regional group in the Union parliamentary group, said, on the other hand, that the candidate for Chancellor was “clearly a matter for the parties”. The heads of government of Schleswig-Holstein and Hesse, Daniel Günther and Volker Bouffier (both CDU), also advocated Laschet as candidate for chancellor after the CDU board and presidium, the top bodies of the Christian Democrats, voted this week. “Surveys can change. The big CDU has to keep an eye on more than surveys, with its 15 regional branches,” said Bouffier. One could “only win the Bundestag election if the CDU and CSU work closely together”. Laschet is CDU chairman and one shouldn’t let him down, Bouffier added.

President of the Bundestag Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) also spoke out in favor of Laschet. The CDU should not be weakened. The Union could hardly “win elections without a strong, vital CDU”. Federal Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) said that the representative structures of the Union should not be damaged. A rapid agreement and mutual respect, as well as cooperation within the two Union parties, are required. Finally, Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) confirmed her support for Laschet due to his ability to balance diverging interests. She called for a swift agreement.

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