The year 2023 will be a test for Friedrich Merz. The CDU chairman is not up for election in the state elections in Bremen, Berlin, Hesse and Bavaria. But victories of the state associations always rub off on the party leader. This is all the more true for defeats.
And Bavaria, the state where the CSU governs? If Prime Minister Markus Söder triumphs, he should have an important say in the political future of Merz. Söder ante Portas again – this time not with Armin Laschet, but with Friedrich Merz.
Then it also proves whether the title of the Merz biography “The Unbowed” applies not only to the past but also to the present. After reading the more than 300-page book by the freelance journalist Jutta Falke-Ischinger and Daniel Goffart, chief reporter of the “Wirtschaftswoche”, there is no doubt about it.
If you want to get a comprehensive picture of Friedrich Merz as a person and his search for the brand core of the CDU, you cannot ignore the work. Because it is also clear for Merz. It is not enough to distinguish yourself as a man of business and a keeper of the conservative silverware. There is no way to win an election.
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With a lot of meticulousness, the authors immersed themselves in the early years of the Sauerland. Friends, teachers and Merz’s wife talk about life between the rifle club, the Catholic student association “Bavaria Bonn” and the lawyer’s family home. The fact that Merz had to change schools and repeat a class should surprise many. In any case, Merz was not the best in Latin like Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
With enormous detailed knowledge, the authors Falke-Ischinger and Goffart let the readers take a look behind the scenes of politics, including the completely broken relationship between Merz and Angela Merkel. After the lost federal elections in 2002, Merkel and Edmund Stoiber pushed Merz out of the presidency of the Union parliamentary group and offered him the office of Bundestag president in return.
“It was boiling in Merz,” write the authors. “He felt betrayed by Merkel, but above all by Stoiber. The two had come up with a great idea! No, not with him! He would, if at all, not think about the office of Parliament President for at least ten years, he called out to Merkel and Stoiber, struggling to keep his composure.”
>>Read here: With these topics, the CDU wants to score points with the citizen
The book is largely written benevolently, but it also touches on Merz’s wounds. His time at the world’s largest wealth manager, Blackrock, takes up just a few pages.
A great deal has been written about it in recent years, and Goffart and Ischinger summarize the results as follows: “Despite the intensive work… after months of research, nothing came out of Merz’s activities that the CDU politician could be accused of can make.”
In the end, Ischinger and Goffart raise a central question that will help determine whether Merz is the right candidate for chancellor for the CDU in the 2025 federal election. Both express what many around him do not dare to say openly. Merz does not come across well in public and on talk shows, and has obvious deficits among women and young people.
The perfect complement
Merz would only need to take a look at his national board to remedy the situation. There is a lot of potential to compensate for its weaknesses outlined by the two authors. One meant here is Joe Chialo. He is a member of the federal executive board of the CDU and a successful music manager.
He is a fan of Friedrich Merz. Above all, with his coolness and enthusiasm for culture, he seems like the perfect complement to him.
Behind it is an eventful life, which he unvarnished about in his book The Fight Goes On. My life between two worlds” , tells. The title is a motto given to him by his father and which helped him through many difficulties.
The family is from Tanzania. Joe Chialo, the son of a diplomat, was born in Bonn in 1970. That sounds very privileged at first. But he and his brother spent many years in boarding school, often only seeing their parents at Christmas. There was no money for the trips.
After an apprenticeship as a cutter and a lot of hard work in the music industry, the breakthrough came. Today Chialo looks after artists like Santiano, Ben Zucker and the Kelly Family.
If Merz finds the time, he should read through Chialo’s political demands, which can be found as fictitious speeches between the impressive biographical parts. It’s about values, diversity of opportunities and Africa. Issues that in times of populism, xenophobia and hate and hate speech on social media could also become the key to his party’s electoral success.
More: Read what’s coming – these are the book highlights in spring 2023