Guler should become general: In the fight against Merz, Braun relies on the heart

Helge Braun brings two women with him to his presentation as an applicant for the CDU chairmanship. Like himself, both belong to the liberal wing of the Union. But Braun wants to overcome such attributions. He wants to bring the CDU forward “with heart and mind”.

Chancellery Minister Helge Braun wants to make the North Rhine-Westphalian member of the Bundestag Serap Guler Secretary General in the event of his election as CDU chairman. Guler comes from the Ruhr area, she was State Secretary for Integration in North Rhine-Westphalia until she moved to the Bundestag. The Saarland member of the Bundestag Nadine Schön is to become head of the department for program and structural development in the CDU.

At the presentation of his team at the federal press conference, Braun said that he was planning “a fundamental renewal in the minds”, in the content and in the organization, “so that it would be interesting to come to the CDU again, to work in it and to support it” .

In addition to Braun, Norbert Röttgen and Friedrich Merz stand for the CDU chairmanship. Röttgen belongs to the liberal wing of the CDU, Merz represents the economically liberal-conservative wing. Naturally, all three applicants claim to represent the entire party. Many observers assume that Merz has the greatest chances. For him it is already the third attempt to become CDU chairman.

“With heart and mind”

The CDU must be down-to-earth and close to the people, said Braun. “We have to ensure that the roots of the CDU – namely the social, liberal and conservative roots of our party – are all perceived as being equally important.”

A joke about Merz

At the beginning of the press conference, Helge Braun wished a “good day, also on behalf of Serap Güler and Nadine Schön, here in East Berlin”. He didn’t make a facial expression, but it was a joke: Friedrich Merz had also welcomed the press “in East Berlin” at his team presentation last Wednesday – the hotel where Merz held his press conference is in the West Berlin district of Neukölln.

Not all journalists understood Braun’s joke. When asked why he had referred to East Berlin at the beginning of the press conference, Braun told the questioner to check with his colleagues.

According to Braun, the social roots of the CDU in particular were not made clear enough during the election campaign. “From my point of view, the CDU must always be there for the hard-working people with their everyday worries, and we must focus on their concerns.” The CDU must have “clear and simple answers” to issues such as rising rents. He wanted to bring the CDU forward “with heart and mind”.

After three coalitions with the SPD, it was logical that it had become difficult to make the conservative roots clear, Braun said. As an example of how he wanted to correct this, he cited security policy. There is “a huge amount of frustration among the police and the security authorities” that must be countered.

With regard to economic policy, Braun said the traffic lights were about to “plan a very expansive spending policy”. That shouldn’t exist in either Europe or Germany: “That threatens our savings, that threatens our pensions.” In January, Braun had called for a temporary suspension of the debt brake in a guest article for the “Handelsblatt”. The initiative met with criticism in the Union at the time, including from CDU boss Armin Laschet. When asked by a journalist, Braun denied that he wanted to suspend the debt brake. The debt brake must be consistently adhered to over the next few years.

The CDU must be perceived with all of its roots. One side says that the social face has become too little visible in the end, the other side says that the conservative has missed out. “And I say: Both are right.”

“Commitment, reliability and cordiality”

About Serap Güler, who was part of the election campaign team of Union Chancellor candidate Laschet, Braun said she could discuss, polarize and integrate. Guler introduced himself as a “child of a working-class family”. Her father came to Germany as a guest worker and worked as a miner, her mother as a cleaning lady. Before starting her studies, she trained as a hotel manager; she knows, from her own experience, “what it means to work hard”.

Guler said that there were three applicants for the CDU chairmanship, all of whom were suitable, “but I am of the opinion that one of them is very special”. When asked, she said that she had never considered running as head of the CDU herself.

In the past 16 years, the CDU had attracted attention through government work and no longer through party work, said Guler. The CDU has become “too comfortable”. In future, the CDU should be a party “that stands for commitment, reliability and cordiality”. You need a language “that not only academics understand”. It must be about addressing not only people’s heads but also hearts. “In the future, it should not only be wise to choose the CDU, it should feel good overall to be with the CDU,” said Guler.

Nadine Schön said the CDU had to create structures in order to be able to use “the strength of our members” on every political level. A position should be created in the Konrad-Adenauer-Haus in order to better support local associations.

The result will be known by mid-January at the latest

Regarding the lack of participation of East Germans in his team, Braun said that he was not running with a full federal board. The reorganization that is now pending cannot be carried out by himself – the members also have a right to decide who will support him. East German interests would also be represented in the future federal executive committee.

Merz takes on the East Berlin CDU politician Mario Czaja, he wants to make him general secretary if he is elected. The previous Baden-Württemberg local politician Christina Stumpp is to become Deputy Secretary General, an office that does not yet exist. Röttgen wants to propose the Hamburg Bundestag member Franziska Hoppermann as Secretary General if he should become CDU boss.

The member survey will take place in a first ballot from December 4th to 16th. If none of the three applicants get an absolute majority, there will be a second ballot from December 29th to January 12th. The winner of the member survey will be officially elected at a party conference in Hanover at the end of January. It has not yet been decided whether this party congress has to take place virtually due to the corona situation.

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