A first mood test for the CDU

As of: February 28, 2024 11:37 a.m

The CDU is discussing its new basic program with the grassroots. The start of the “Germany tour” was in Mainz. The party leadership receives a lot of support – but also some criticism.

“Basically CDU” is a slogan that is emblazoned in several places at the Rheingoldhalle in Mainz. But what does the party actually stand for, fundamentally? On Tuesday evening, the party leadership will discuss this with the base. It’s a mood test for the CDU. With its new basic program, the party wants to make its political guidelines clearer.

Melissa Enders is one of almost 1,000 CDU members who came to the start of the CDU’s “Germany tour” in the state capital of Rhineland-Palatinate. The 32-year-old is active in local politics in Mainz and joined the CDU at the age of 19. “I expect a clear line of march,” she says. “But also an open ear from the party leadership.”

In any case, the leadership sets the direction. In his keynote speech, party leader Friedrich Merz emphasizes the value of freedom and cohesion and sets foreign, social and economic policy priorities. Merz, for example, calls for a better relationship with France and Poland, sees coexistence threatened by extremist parties “from the left and especially now from the right” and rejects the four-day week: There is “no effortless prosperity.”

Longing for “conservative ideas”

Merz outlines what the party has worked out on around 70 pages in its draft of the new basic program. The concept was presented in December last year.

In the paper, the Union defines itself as a Christian-social, liberal and conservative party. Among other things, she wants a mandatory year of service, relies on the debt brake and the “nuclear power option”. It calls for “cosmopolitan patriotism” and “courage to adopt a dominant culture.” This guiding culture not only includes laws, but also “the common consciousness of home and belonging.”

“The basic program gives conservative members new orientation. Many in the party longed for more conservative ideas, including me,” says CDU member Thomas Esper from Rheinhessen in Mainz. “I think a guiding culture is important for social cohesion. A society needs rules and shared values,” says the 58-year-old.

discussion about Migration policy

Melissa Enders has a different opinion about a guiding culture for everyone. “I am critical of the emphasis on the fact that only those people who are clearly committed to Germany according to the CDU definition belong to Germany,” she says. She is also rather negative about nuclear power.

So far, the party’s ideas on migration policy have been the main cause of discussion. The CDU relies on the concept of “safe third countries” in its draft basic program. “Everyone who applies for asylum in Europe should be transferred to a safe third country and go through a procedure there,” says the draft basic program. A “coalition of the willing” in the EU should then take on a certain contingent of those in need of protection.

Great need to talk

However, migration is hardly an issue at the regional conference in Mainz. However, the need to speak from the audience is great: there are around 40 requests to speak at the end, but due to time constraints only a small part is processed. This includes occasional criticism of the program and the party.

Why the party leadership is “purely male” is noted. Another member called for the sentence “Muslims who shared our values ​​belong to Germany” to be deleted from the basic program. Party leader Merz makes it clear that he is not entirely happy with this formulation either.

Melissa Enders is satisfied after the event. The party leadership listened, but above all important points were raised by the rank and file. Nevertheless, she would like to see more discussions: “Cannabis legalization is part of it, the four-day week and work-life balance are part of it. These are topics that concern my generation.”

In any case, there should be further discussions: The CDU has planned five more stops on its tour with the basic program. It will then be finally decided at the party conference in May. Then it should be clear what the party fundamentally stands for.

Christian Buttkereit, SWR, tagesschau, February 28, 2024 11:49 a.m

source site