Thuringian CDU state leader Voigt sees himself confirmed after a duel with Höcke

Mario Voigt: “It was the right decision to provide Höcke with content”

The Thuringian CDU state chairman Mario Voigt (right) with his AfD opponent Björn Höcke during the television duel on Welt TV on April 11th.

© Michael Kappeler / DPA

The Thuringian CDU state leader Voigt sees himself strengthened in the confrontation with the AfD leader and already sees himself in the federal presidency of his party. As deputy head of the program commission, he defends the concept of dominant culture and the demarcation from parts of Islam.

Mr. Voigt, in the draft CDUThe basic program stated: “Muslims who share our values ​​belong to Germany.” Now it should be said: “An Islam that does not share our values ​​and rejects our free society does not belong to Germany.” What’s better about this double negative?
Quite simply: We are making it clearer than before that the demarcation is expressly not directed against Muslims, but rather against a political, aggressive Islam. So against Islamism. The sentence makes it clear that we as the CDU do not accept when Islamist governments interfere in Germany’s internal affairs under the guise of religious freedom, be it through mosque associations or obscure associations.

So only Islam belongs Germanythat the CDU considers to be correct?
An Islam that does not respect women’s rights, that does not tolerate people’s sexual orientation, that simply does not respect the Basic Law: Yes, such an Islam does not belong to Germany. Sharia law does not belong to Germany. But that doesn’t mean that the Islamic religion or a majority of Muslims living in Germany are placed under general suspicion. On the contrary. The demarcation is based on a fanatical ideology that threatens our free basic order.

But it’s about more than that. This is also shown by the rediscovery of what was believed to have long been obsolete Leading culture-term. What does it mean to you?
The guiding culture is the house rules of our country. In addition to the Basic Law, it includes our German language, German culture and the awareness of German history and the responsibility that arises from it. The dominant culture thus clearly excludes racism and anti-Semitism – and includes solidarity towards Israel. People who want to live permanently in Germany must clearly commit to all of this. The state must promote integration – but also demand it. In the end, the term leading culture expresses an invitation to live in freedom.

Doesn’t Leitkultur mean more: Germany, Germany above all?
No. We offer a canon of values ​​for our community in cultural modernity. It’s about what holds us together as a nation, about freedom and democracy, about security and trust. And yes, this also includes a positive, patriotic view of Germany, without in the least diminishing the historical responsibility that I just spoke about. The glue of our society consists not only of abstract constitutional patriotism, but also of a popular culture made up of customs, traditions and stories.

The AfD speaks of so-called solidarity patriotism, which, however, has more characteristics of national socialism: Do you want to win back AfD voters with the term leading culture?
This theory is nonsense. The CDU has always stood for the values ​​that the term leading culture encompasses, from Konrad Adenauer to Helmut Kohl to Friedrich Merz. The guiding culture has always been the core of my party – and the opposite of what the AfD stands for.

You have with the Thuringian AfD leader Björn Höcke argued on television. How do you feel about it in retrospect?
Good. It was the right decision to provide Höcke with content. The debate showed very clearly the differences between conservative values ​​and right-wing extremism.

Oh well. Especially at the beginning of the conversation, Höcke was able to explain his extreme slogans in detail without being seriously contradicted.
It took a bit of an attempt. But after this initial phase, Höcke quickly went on the defensive. The fact that the man who wants to drive millions of people out of Germany tried to relativize the AfD’s central battle concept of remigration: that was an oath of revelation. Höcke didn’t have the courage to stand by his extremist ideology. That alone made the debate worth it.

A survey commissioned by Focus says that the survey actually encouraged AfD voters. Disappointed?
On the contrary. It is understandable that 150 percent of AfD supporters are closing their ranks in the face of criticism of Mr. Höcke’s obvious fickleness. Many citizens saw Höcke “disenchanted,” as one of your colleagues put it. This corresponds to the conversations I have had with many people in Thuringia since the TV debate. There was great support and gratitude here. The nationwide reactions were also predominantly positive.

The former Thuringian CDU state leader Mike Mohring (right), who is currently the only elected representative of the state association on the federal executive board, and his successor Mario Voigt.

© Michael Reichel / DPA

You have actually achieved your goal of becoming better known. At the CDU party conference at the beginning of May, where the basic program is decided, you are running for the Federal Presidency. How optimistic are you that you will be elected?
I am pleased about the unanimous nomination by my regional association and that the other East German regional associations support me. And I have a lot of positive signals beyond that. I would be happy if I could strengthen the East German perspective at the top of the party, especially with a view to the state elections in Thuringia, Saxony and Brandenburg. Everything else is decided by the delegates.

Mike Mohring, her predecessor at the head of the state party and state parliamentary group, has announced that he will run again for the federal executive board. What do you think of it?
The state board almost unanimously advised him against it. We are a free country and the CDU is a democratic party. Anyone who wants to run should run.

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