Berlin CDU party leader Friedrich Merz has met with fierce criticism within his own party with his statements about possible joint action with the AfD at the municipal level.
Berlin’s Governing Mayor Kai Wegner wrote on Twitter: “The AfD only knows against and division. Where should there be COLLABORATION? The CDU cannot, will not and will not work with a party whose business model is hate, division and exclusion.”
The AfD, on the other hand, sees the Merz statements positively and wants to make cooperation with the CDU possible in the future.
In the ZDF summer interview on Sunday, Merz reaffirmed that the Union would not cooperate with the AfD. However, he now restricted this to “legislative bodies”, for example at the European, federal or state level. If a district administrator in Thuringia and a mayor in Saxony-Anhalt were elected by the AfD, then those were democratic elections, said Merz.
“We have to accept that. And of course the local parliaments have to look for ways to shape the city, the state, the district together.” What he meant by that, however, remained unclear in the interview. On Monday, Merz tried to clarify with a tweet: the decision of the CDU was clear, there would be no cooperation with the AfD at any level.
Criticism came promptly from his own party. The Vice-President of the Bundestag, Yvonne Magwas, who is also a member of the CDU presidium, wrote on Twitter: “Whether local council or Bundestag, right-wing radicals remain right-wing radicals. For Christian Democrats, right-wing extremists are ALWAYS enemies!”
Merz receives criticism from his own party
The Federal Chairwoman of the Women’s Union, Annette Widmann-Mauz (CDU), said with regard to the AfD: “The party and its inhuman & anti-democratic content remain the same, no matter what level.” The CDU foreign politician Norbert Röttgen emphasized that his party had decided to ban cooperation with the AfD. “Anyone who wants to change that must find a majority at a federal party conference of the #CDU.”
The resolution states, among other things: “Anyone who advocates rapprochement or even cooperation with the AfD in the CDU must know that they are approaching a party that consciously tolerates right-wing extremist ideas, anti-Semitism and racism in its ranks. (…). The CDU rejects any coalition or similar forms of cooperation with the AfD.”
CSU boss Markus Söder has also clearly rejected cooperation with the AfD at the municipal level and has thus clearly distanced himself from Merz.
“The CSU rejects any cooperation with the AfD – regardless of the political level,” wrote the Bavarian Prime Minister on Twitter on Monday. “Because the AfD is anti-democratic, right-wing extremist and divides our society. That is not compatible with our values.”
The AfD is demanding exit from the EU and NATO, thereby weakening prosperity and endangering our security. “We clearly differentiate ourselves and, on the other hand, rely on good politics: We take people’s concerns and needs seriously,” wrote Söder, adding: “The CSU stands for a strong and secure Bavaria, so that our country remains stable.”
AfD chairman Tino Chrupalla wrote about the debate on Twitter: “Now the first stones are falling from the black and green firewall. In the federal states and the federal government, we will tear down the wall together. The winners will be the citizens who regain prosperity, freedom and security through interest-driven politics.”
The Greens and the FDP are also irritated by Merz
Green Party chairwoman Ricarda Lang also criticized Merz on ARD: “First he reduced this party to a better alternative for Germany and now he is building the firewall – which the Union itself has repeatedly invoked – a little bit.”
The FDP politician Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann wrote: “Local politics is the cradle of our democracy. It is precisely here that the firewall to the anti-democratic AfD must not fall. Because otherwise it falls all the more in the “legislative levels.”
Linnemann defends Merz
The new CDU General Secretary Carsten Linnemann defended Merz: For the CDU it was clear that there was “no cooperation with the AfD”, “no matter what level”, Linnemann told the “Bild”. “Friedrich Merz also sees it that way, although he rightly points out the difficult implementation on site. Because when the local parliament is about a new daycare center, we cannot only vote against it because the AfD votes. We do not make ourselves dependent on right-wing extremists.”
Merz had described the Union as an “alternative for Germany with substance” last week at the retreat of the CSU state group. He also received criticism for this. At the beginning of his tenure as party leader, he had promised “a firewall to the AfD”. In March 2021, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution classified the AfD as a suspected right-wing extremist. Merz rejected a ban on the party in the ZDF interview: “Party bans have never led to solving a political problem.”
In an Insa survey, the AfD is 22 percent nationwide and thus only four percentage points behind the Union. The AfD thus gained two points in the weekly poll commissioned by “Bild am Sonntag”. In the surveys of other opinion research institutes, the AfD was also at 20 percent. CDU/CSU come to 26 percent at Insa (minus 1 point).
Most recently, in the district of Sonneberg (Thuringia), AfD politician Robert Stuhlmann was elected Germany’s first AfD district administrator. In Raguhn-Jeßnitz in Saxony-Anhalt, an AfD politician was appointed full-time mayor.
More: Majority of those eligible to vote consider AfD to be right-wing extremists