Nightmarish. Six months before the legislative elections of September 26 and the announced departure of Angela Merkel, the adjective is not exaggerated to describe the situation of the German conservatives (CDU-CSU), weighed down by their erratic management of the health crisis, shaken by several corruption cases and still without a leader or project to lead a campaign that promises to be more complicated every day.
The evolution of polls explains their feverishness. In early February, the CDU-CSU was still credited with 35% to 37% of voting intentions, slightly more than its 2017 score (33%). Today, it fluctuates between 25% and 28%. Hounded by the Greens (21-23%), the conservatives still have enough lead to hope to keep the chancellery. But if their fall continues, nothing is excluded, including their return to the opposition benches, which would be a first since Mr.me Merkel in 2005.
How to regain control in such a context? Tuesday, March 30, the new president of the CDU, Armin Laschet, laid the groundwork for what is akin to a strategy of reconquest. “We can’t go on like this”, he hammered during a speech recording the start of a vast consultation for the development of his party’s electoral program.
Lashing out “Errors in the management of the pandemic and bad personal behavior which contributed to shake confidence in the CDU-CSU”, an allusion to the “mask affair”, which pushed four deputies to leave the group for a month, Mr. Laschet painted a gloomy picture of Germany, using words that could almost have been those of a leader of the opposition. “The state and the administration must be more digitized, faster and more efficient. We need a cultural change ”, he hammered.
Break with the Merkel years
From a man long regarded as a devotee of Mme Merkel, such severity was unexpected. But Mr. Laschet clearly believes that the time has come to emancipate himself from the Chancellor. Another sentence from his speech on Tuesday confirmed this distancing: “We need to have confidence in those working on the ground and allow more freedom and flexibility. “ Two days after Mme Merkel threatened to centralize the management of the pandemic to the detriment of the Länder, the president of the CDU – who also heads the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia – could not clearly disagree.
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