Friedrich Merz had his ambitions scattered about his environment and did not deny them when he performed in Berlin on Thursday. Health Minister Jens Spahn said in an interview with the “Spiegel” that he was ready to take responsibility. Only Laschet had been silent until now.
The expectations on Friday evening in the Kelkheim town hall were therefore high!
Does Laschet follow suit?
For the 19th time, the CDU there had invited to the political “Valentine’s Meeting”. It is one of the most popular CDU events in all of Hesse. The political prominence of the CDU and CSU has been a guest here in the past: from Angela Merkel (2002) to Helmut Kohl (2003) to Horst Seehofer (2010). Laschet’s competitors, Jens Spahn and Friedrich Merz, were also here – the latter even twice (2005 and 2013).
Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg announced at the Valentine’s meeting in 2011 that he would hand over his doctorate after allegations of plagiarism.
And so many of the around 500 guests in the Kelkheim town hall moved the question: Will Laschet succeed the CDU party leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (and possible candidate for chancellor) or will he pinch?
It was put after over an hour by the JU district chairman Fabian legs: If he bet on Laschet in the party chair election, whether he was right? But Laschet evaded, referring to the one-on-one discussions that AKK will hold next week with all three potential successors.
“It doesn’t hurt to have a few days to think,” said Laschet: “We are trying to find a solution that is good for the CDU.”
And added: The probability that the next CDU leader is “a man from NRW” is very high. You don’t have to be a clairvoyant to make this forecast: Laschet as well as Merz and Spahn come from NRW.
However, some hints of how Laschet imagines the future could be gathered from his 45-minute speech. In the Laschet called on his party to “strike a balance between the different strands” in times of widespread hatred and political constellations of “non-government”, said Laschet and warned: “The CDU must not slip into the same spiral that the SPD has slipped. That takes a lot of responsibility from everyone. ”
One can confidently understand that as a reminder to Merz and Spahn not to wipe out the CDU in a bitter fight.
Continuity with a new face
Laschet also recalled the poor forecasts for the CDU before the state election in North Rhine-Westphalia in 2017 and how he led his party to victory despite the hype surrounding the SPD chancellor candidate Martin Schulz.
And he formulated the “recipe for success” for a strong CDU: “You have to keep the tried and tested and renew yourself.”
That doesn’t sound like a Merzian break with the Merkel era, but like continuity with a new face. After one like Laschet.
He also demonstrated in Kelkheim that – as befits a potential candidate for chancellor – he not only has an eye on the political or national horizon, but the whole world. He spent more time on the challenges posed by Brexit and the competition from China.
“If we are not careful, we will oversleep technological developments where others dictate the rules,” warned Laschet, not referring to the construction of the Wuhan hospital, which was pounded out of the ground within days, without a certain admiration.
Notable announcement towards the left
Laschet also spoke in Kelkheim on the crucial question of the CDU: “Of course, we will never coalition, cooperate or be tolerated with a right-wing party,” he said, referring to the AfD.
This also applies to the left, but for other reasons such as their hostility to the EU:
“Nobody equates Mr. Ramelow with Mr. HOcke.” The former Thuringian Prime Minister Ramelow from the left is a colleague of the Prime Ministers, “with whom one can speak pragmatically”. But in contrast to the Greens in Hesse, the left still has an “anti-system character”.
And then Laschet said a remarkable sentence: “If that has been done and if no constitutional protection has to watch her anymore because she works against our basic order, then we can talk about everything.”
At the end there was a standing ovation for Laschet in Kelkheim. He was only a second choice: the organizers originally wanted to invite another guest: Sebastian Kurz, Prime Minister of Austria.
It is where Laschet still wants to go: in a chancellery.