JU boss Kuban stops: The younger Union

Status: 11/18/2022 2:27 p.m

The Junge Union is over at 35 – too old. The chairman, Tilman Kuban, is stepping down from his post, and the Union’s junior staff is reorganizing itself. Who could follow – and what does that mean for CDU boss Merz?

By Sabine Henkel, ARD Capital Studio

It’s been a good year since Friedrich Merz came out as a cleaning specialist at the Germany Day of the Junge Union. “Young brooms sweep well, but the old brush knows the corners,” he tried in October 2021 in front of the party’s youngsters, a somewhat outdated phrase. Merz, the corner connoisseur, let the young broom of the Union know that the CDU needs a mixed team to make the party fit for the future after the lost federal election.

A few months and one party chairman election later, the self-proclaimed old brush took over the leadership of the party. There was a major cleanup in the committees: Six members from the Junge Union moved to the federal executive board, and 33-year-old Ronja Kemmer sits on the executive committee. So far, so new.

Germany Day of the Young Union

The Junge Union (JU) comes together in Fulda for its Germany Day – which is basically the party congress of the Union’s young people. Under the motto “Together. Courageous. Forward.” For three days, more than 1,000 delegates and guests discuss the future prospects of their party. The new election of the JU federal board is on the program for the evening. JU boss Tilman Kuban no longer appears after three and a half years; he is now 35 and has therefore reached the JU age limit. Previous JU bosses were Philipp Missfelder and Paul Ziemiak.

Young people vote for the Greens or the FDP

But the problems of the CDU are far from being solved. The party must answer the question of how it intends to convince the younger generation of its policies. In the federal election, 66 percent of the CDU voters were over 60 years old. Young people mostly voted for the Greens or the FDP.

Merz wants to take more responsibility for the Junge Union. It should concern itself less with itself, but occupy the issues of the younger generation.

Friedrich Merz was a welcome guest at the Junge Union even before his comeback at the top of the CDU. The photo shows him with JU boss Kuban in autumn 2019.

Image: dpa

The once intimate relationship between the JU and the CDU leader has cooled. Merz is disappointed and misses more commitment, and the Junge Union with its chairman Tilman Kuban no longer recognizes its old Friedrich, since he voted for the women’s quota in the party.

Merz relies on personnel changes

Now the JU is choosing a new leader, and the change in personnel could be a turning point. Merz relies on Johannes Winkel, who is running for the federal presidency of the Junge Union and from whom he hopes that he will get more involved. In North Rhine-Westphalia he showed that Winkel places content at the center of his work and identified education as the most important topic for a youth organization.

Johannes Winkel, 31, from South Westphalia, wants to take over the top position from Kuban. Kuban has to give up the post due to age, he is 35. In recent years he has done a lot to modernize the Junge Union, with great success. So today there are more women, even if they are still in the minority, but still.

Only the external appearance changes nothing. And even selfies with sneakers and doing without ties and jackets are not enough to convince young voters. The image of being old-fashioned and stuffy is difficult to polish up. Philipp Amthor and Kuban embody this cliché.

angle is different. He could – optically at least – also come from the FDP junior pool. His demeanor is also different. Kuban likes to rumble in the Söder style, Winkel is much quieter, is considered more progressive and could therefore meet Merz’s expectations and take care of the issues for the younger generation: climate protection, demographic change, intergenerational justice.

The CDU is working on a new basic program and the next generation of the party should get involved. Merz has identified the corners, but Chairman Merz does not stand for a modern CDU. He needs the boys from the party – also to sweep through.

From old brushes and young Christian Democrats: Merz and the Young Union

Sabine Henkel, ARD Berlin, November 18, 2022 10:26 a.m

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