Wednesday April 21, 2021
Interview with Friedrich Merz
“I bet we can get over 30 percent”
From Franca Lehfeldt
Friedrich Merz considers the bad poll results to be a snapshot. One reason for this is the bad corona management by the federal government. The Union must show that it can do better: “Not only better than the Greens, but also better than the federal government.”
The CDU politician Friedrich Merz considers it “completely out of the question” that the Union will replace its candidate for chancellor during the election campaign. “The Union parties have both decided,” said Merz in an interview with RTL and ntv. “We have a common candidate, and the Union is now going to the Bundestag election with him.”
CDU chief Armin Laschet was declared the Union’s candidate for chancellor on Tuesday. Merz said that “there is still a lot of discussion going on in the party, but there is a very clear trend: the majority of members accept the vote”.
The RTL / ntv trend barometer from Tuesday, which sees CDU and CSU at only 21 percent, described Merz as “recording the moment”. This is not a trend, but will turn again. He is ready to “make a big bet” that the Union will achieve a result of more than 30 percent of the vote, “and that we are well ahead of the Greens”.
Nevertheless, Merz rated the power struggle in the Union as unfortunate. The Greens would have done better: “That was really well staged.” The Union could also have “done it a little better”.
“We have to show that we can do better”
In the currently bad surveys, “part of the federal government’s corona management is also expressed,” said Merz. The Union must therefore show alternatives in the election campaign. “We have to show that we can do better. Not only do better than the Greens, but also better than the German government at present.”
In order to avoid open conflicts such as the dispute over the candidate for chancellor between the Union parties in the future, Merz called for a joint committee of the CDU and CSU for the future. There is indeed a joint parliamentary group, “but it does not represent the party as a whole”. A joint body must also “have an inner balance” and reflect the different sizes of the two parties.
The question of whether he would appear in the election campaign together with the former President of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Hans-Georg Maaßen, evaded Merz. First of all, the Thuringian constituency has to decide whether it wants to set up Maaßen. “I answer what-if questions when the situation arises.” However, Merz did not want to rule out a joint appearance: “We are and will remain a large people’s party in the center. We remain conservative in terms of values, economically liberal, Christian, social, and everyone has to fit in.”
Merz does not rule out a ministerial post
Merz himself was chosen as a direct candidate for the Hochsauerlandkreis last Saturday by the local CDU. He feels it is a “really great personal honor” to be able to be a member of the Bundestag again. He wanted to “achieve an above-average result in his constituency in order to contribute to the overall victory of the Union in Germany”.
With a view to the amendment to the Infection Protection Act just passed in the Bundestag, Merz was skeptical. The law stipulates that face-to-face teaching in schools is usually stopped at an incidence of 165. He considers this number to be in need of explanation, said Merz. “Why not 158.5, but 165?” He is “always very skeptical when the federal government takes over powers”. As a member of the Bundestag, he would have “found it very difficult” to approve this law.
When asked whether he was aiming for a ministerial office, Merz said: “In any case, I would not reject it from the start.” However, one does not decide on this alone, “and for that we first have to have a majority”.