Markus Söder wants to get rid of a misunderstanding on Saturday. Next Wednesday, the CSU boss will come to Berlin to present a biography about Armin Laschet. That immediately caused a sensation on the exchange of political speculators.
After all, despite all his own denials, the Bavarian is still highly traded there as someone contesting candidacy for chancellor with the next CDU president. And even if he really doesn’t want to, does the eulogy for the book hint at a favorite?
It is not, assures Söder: “When the other two are making a book, I also like to add it.” The clarification is so important to him that he included it in his speech at the CSU virtual party convention on Saturday. As Bavarian prime minister, he and his Düsseldorf colleague fought a long distance duel for the best corona strategy.
But the closer it gets to the CDU party congress, which should decide on December 4 between Laschet, Friedrich Merz and Norbert Röttgen, the more Söder tries to avoid the impression that he is dominating the big sister as a poll favorite and shadow candidate.
That has something to do with the outsider of the trio, only illogical at first sight. Some time ago, Röttgen had quite openly tried to use the popularity of Bavaria for his own election campaigns: he had no problem with it, the CDU member announced, only to move into the Konrad-Adenauer-Haus as the CDU leader and candidate for chancellor to give links.
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Norbert gets Markus for us
Röttgen has now assured that he dares to go to the chancellery and wants to go there too. But for those CDU delegates who all find the three applicants of their own a little too light to succeed Angela Merkel, the first message is enough: Norbert will get us Mark.
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No one in the party believes in a victory for the foreign politician. But if he gets enough votes from the 1,001 delegates, that will force Laschet and Merz into the second round. Many ultimately fear that the CDU would be in the same dire situation as after the Merz-Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer duel: split into two camps, only now not for three long years, but just before the general election.
Volker Bouffier also shares the concern. The Hessian demands determination from all involved before the CDU party congress. “Regardless of who is running, you need to know if you’re running for chancellor,” demanded the CDU vice-chairmen doyen in the “Fuldaer Zeitung” over the weekend.
Armin Laschet (CDU), Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, makes a statement after polling stations are closed. The CDU … Photo: Federico Gambarini / dpa
Since neither Laschet nor Merz left any doubts, only Röttgen remains as addressee. Especially since Bouffier also asks Söder to play with open cards: “At the same time, Markus Söder and the CSU have to decide how they see things.”
However, this is unlikely to happen. At the party congress, Söder praised all three CDU applicants as “excellent candidates”, promised everyone good cooperation in the worst case and praised the Chancellor in the highest tone: “Yes, I learned a lot there.” That was “further development”, not friendship.
But he reminded everyone that the CSU cannot just approve a CDU candidate out of self-esteem: “Ultimately, we must be united.” Without the votes of Bavaria, no candidate of the Union would become Chancellor, especially as he expected a “blink of an eye” on election day.
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Söder also attaches importance to the fact that Merkel’s high reputation in the corona crisis is not simply inherited: “It always has to be redesigned.” Until recently, the punishment would have been regarded as a sottise against Laschet. Now it also applies to Bavaria itself: his virtual party conference was also a kind of epidemiological seminar for adult education with which he defended his Corona course.
“Winter is coming”
The essence of the lecture was placed on a cup, clearly visible on the desk: “Winter is coming!” In the cult series “Game of Thrones”, the phrase warns of ghost warriors of the ice. In the Franz-Josef-Strauss-Haus, Söder warns about the virus in the cold season.
Only the question of who will be on the throne in the cabinet room in a year’s time remains open in the union game until the last season. Söder leaves it at the ambiguous uniqueness: “My place is always with you, of course,” he told his delegate. But since that could be interpreted as meaning “at least in the heart”, he quickly adds an illuminating “… in Bavaria!” Please.
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However, the three CDU warriors must first agree with each other and with the outgoing boss on Monday how their election campaign will continue in the next two months. In fact, the conversation in the Konrad-Adenauer-Haus does not lead to anything exciting. The trio had already agreed in the spring to the idea of organizing two online formats, organized by the party headquarters, in which party members can ask questions to anyone.
It should stay that way. The others don’t want to take part in a triple fight on TV like the one Röttgen is asking for. Kramp-Karrenbauer does not think so either. Probably also in view of her own fate, she recently warned that a selection of good candidates should not turn into a ‘ruinous competition’.