Friedrich Merz, Norbert Röttgen & Helge Braun

Berlin When the presidium of the CDU’s Economic Council meets this Monday, the well-known group around economic giants such as Bettina Würth, Wendelin von Boch, Paul Bauwens-Adenauer as well as Daimler board member Renata Jungo Brüngger, Deutsche Bank boss Christian Sewing, Fraport- Boss Stefan Schulte and SAP boss Christian Klein digest a loss: Friedrich Merz will no longer run for vice president.

The news is already circulating in economic council circles. The icon of the economic wing of the Union is to fulfill its mission and, after two narrowly missed opportunities, create in the third attempt, for which the Merz Economic Council has been supporting for two years with the honorary office, the federal office, its regional associations and the structures in the regions: Federal Chairman of the CDU to will.

The election campaign for the CDU chairmanship has officially started. Since 6 p.m. on Wednesday last week, the candidates have two weeks to recommend themselves to the party’s 400,000 or so members. It is no longer the case in 2018 and the beginning of the year to convince a thousand and one delegates in advance by phone or through their country teams. You have to motivate many of the disappointed supporters to put the cross in the right place: either with Merz or with the foreign policy specialist Norbert Röttgen, who is applying for the second time – or with the surprisingly candidate Chancellery Minister Helge Braun. All candidates are looking for a large majority – including Merz.

Election campaign in difficult times

Outsider Braun, for example, cannot rely on a special kind of campaign headquarters like Merz. Just as Röttgen did on Friday a week ago, he will also appear in front of the capital’s journalists on this Monday in the disdainful federal press conference and declare his candidacy. So far he has only been nominated by his district association Gießen, there was no vote of the state executive in view of the many Merz supporters in the conservative state association. To do this, he explains the government’s corona policy on talk shows.

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So far, Braun has only published one member’s letter on its website. In it he declares that he wants to involve the members more closely and raise the party’s profile. And in view of the upcoming state elections in 2022, he writes: “According to the results of the member survey, we don’t have a single day for arguments or new open management issues.”

Therefore, he wants Ralph Brinkhaus to remain parliamentary group leader and not to a fight vote in April. Röttgen has also given the approval, Merz has not yet. So far, anyone who wants to know more about Braun can only subscribe to its newsletter.

Röttgen, who can above all hope for approval from the younger and female members, is promoting himself with the motto: “Now, however: Ahead!” He has secured a corresponding domain. Franziska Hoppermann supports him in the election campaign. The 39-year-old new member of the Bundestag from Hamburg has a lot of administrative experience and has already proven that she can assert herself in the Hanseatic male world. Together as well as separately, both want to visit district associations in the next few days, on site or digitally. Hoppermann is to become the general secretary.

The decision in favor of the practicing Catholic and passionate singer was surprising, as the leadership of the Hamburg CDU actually drums for Merz and now had to abstain from a vote. At the weekend she called for a comprehensive pension reform.

A “new social question” is in the room

In terms of content, Röttgen relies on familiar things from his first election campaign, supplemented by a proclaimed “new social question”. In the party’s history, the terms are closely linked to the greats Heiner Geißler and Kurt Biedenkopf, who thus laid the programmatic ground for Helmut Kohl. While at the time it was about a permanent readjustment of the welfare state in times of permanently high unemployment, Röttgen identified the global companies that pay no taxes and thus burden the middle class with the burden of the welfare state.

It is obvious that Friedrich Merz invests the most. He did not declare his candidacy like Röttgen or Braun in front of the blue wall of the federal press conference, but rented a large hall in the event hotel Estrel in Berlin on his own account. With his own stage, including a desk and digital back wall, he performed with Mario Czaja as designated Secretary General. He was social senator in Berlin for five years and is supposed to serve the social flank. The CDU was “not well positioned” on the issue of social justice, said Merz. On Sunday he emphasized that the party no longer had the opinion leadership on any questions. He wants to ensure that the compatibility of family and work is possible and no longer be a disadvantage in the career, directly in the party headquarters.

“Team Merz” is now called “Team CDU”

The former “Team Merz” of the first two attempts has given way to the “Team CDU”. He has secured a corresponding internet presence. The election campaign will run “similar to last time,” said his spokesman. There are appointments organized by the federal party via CDU TV. “In addition, Mr. Merz will attend a few appointments at the invitation of district chairmen, which, however, as it is now becoming apparent, will mostly take place online. Details are still being voted on. “

Whether Merz can convince the social wing and the women in the CDU will be shown on December 17, when the federal party announces the vote of the first ballot. By then, someone else will have resigned from his honorary position: Carsten Linnemann, the party vice planned by Merz should quickly set up a basic program commission after the election and head it with his own office and employees in the Konrad-Adenauer-Haus. To this end, Linnemann gives up his chairmanship of the SME and Economic Union.

In a letter to the 26,000 members on Friday, the 46-year-old wrote that Merz had the potential to “pacify the party. I trust him to help the CDU not only achieve a real profile, but also gain new impact. ”The CDU will revive with him as a people’s party. “Because the team that he has built around himself not only represents a generation change, but also represents the broad spectrum of this party.”

More: Too selfish, too unsuccessful, too little loyal – Jens Spahn’s descent in the CDU

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