Wrong: Friedrich Merz loses the race for the CDU chairmanship. But instead of giving up, he demands Altmaier's post on the same day in return for his support for Laschet. Nevertheless, the party would do well to make the egoman economic minister.
Bold, bold, Friedrich Merz: The failed candidate of his CDU does not allow a moment of calm and relief over the clarified party leadership issue. Instead of contributing to the fact that the Armin Laschet show on Saturday afternoon actually only revolves around the new chairman, Merz once again proves his inability to play a team. He announced that he had offered Laschet his collaboration if he could become Federal Minister of Economics in place of his CDU colleague Peter Altmaier. Merz knows no party friends when it comes to Merz. At least he's brilliant at conveying that impression.
At first glance, this suggestion seems downright insane: Chancellor Angela Merkel had already rejected a similar approach a good two years ago. The then newly elected CDU chairwoman Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had wanted to involve the defeated Merz by giving him a seat at the cabinet table. But Merkel didn't even think about chasing her loyal companion Altmaier off the court in favor of her old adversary Merz.
What is that supposed to help?
Merz knew in advance that Merkel thinks no differently today, which she immediately had her spokesman clarify. And what should such a cabinet reshuffle bring, eight months before the general election? Merz would have to get used to it first; he has never worked in a ministry, let alone managed one. Until the parliamentary summer break, which marks the de facto end of the current legislative period, it could hardly achieve anything – apart from self-profiling. And even for that he might not have the time. The Federal Ministry of Economics is working to full capacity for the foreseeable future with the issues of Corona aid and the energy transition.
Nevertheless, Armin Laschet may make it too easy for himself when he helplessly raises his arms with reference to the Chancellor's refusal to accept. If he really wants it, he could possibly push Merz through to ministerial office against Merkel's will. There are some arguments in favor of trying. Starting with the fact that Altmaier had a poor term in office. He delayed the energy transition when, under his responsibility, the expansion of wind energy practically came to a standstill, while the negotiations to phase out coal dragged on forever. The Corona aid is technically poor: Associations and those affected repeatedly complain about the slow payout, complicated applications and unpractical regulations.
An agreement against Merz will be difficult
That Merz dares to do better may be presumptuous. But why not finally get the perpetual heckler from the sidelines onto the pitch? Either he can do it really better than the acting actors or he demystifies himself and there is calm in the box. Both would be to the Union's advantage. Kramp-Karrenbauer can sing a song about the fact that it is more damaging to the party to leave Merz without tasks, which her Laschet will definitely not want to whistle in a few years. In return, Merz would, of course, have to loudly and clearly renounce any ambitions for chancellor once and for all.
The most important argument for the CDU, however, to entrust Merz with a ministerial post despite his sometimes impossible behavior, is the division of the party itself. The fact that Laschet has become party chairman is not least due to his promise of reconciliation and merging, which apparently a large part of it the delegate longs. But Laschet will have a hard time winning over the enthusiastic and all the more bitterly disappointed Merz fans. The same applies to the East German regional associations. The fact that a year ago the possibility of a spin-off from the Thuringian regional association was even thought must be a warning to the whole Union.
Whether Merkel and the other Merz opponents like it or not: The economically liberal and the particularly conservative part of the party base believes that they would not feel represented in the party leadership without this man. These quite a few people, however, absolutely belong in a democratic party. Otherwise they turn away just like Friedrich Merz: It is already foreseeable that, with reference to his prevented ministerial ambitions, he will spin the legend again that the evil party establishment prevented the tribune. Unless Laschet and Merkel jump over their shadows.