Sunday, June 13

German CDU Leader Says ‘Firewall’ Against Far Right Will Stand Firm | Germany

Armin Laschet, the leader of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and his potential successor as chancellor, has insisted that his party’s “firewall” against the far right will remain intact as the CDU prepares for a solid outcome for the Alternative nationalist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) in Sunday’s state elections in Saxony-Anhalt.

The AfD, which first entered the German parliament in 2017, is stuck at around 11% of the votes in polls for the national vote in September, but has buttressed its influential positions in several formerly socialist eastern states.

In Saxony-Anhalt, polls predict that the far right could even challenge the ruling CDU, some of whose delegates in the region have expressed more openness to a power-sharing agreement with the AfD than to the party’s national leadership.

While the CDU of current state Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff is expected to form the next government, a recent poll by pollster Insa placed the AfD in first place, with 26%, and the Conservatives in second with a 25%.

“The CDU has to do its part to make it clear that we will not talk to them, we will not cooperate with them, we will not form a coalition with them,” Laschet, the party leader, told Deutschlandfunk broadcaster on Tuesday. . “We are not willing to cooperate with them, at any level,” he added.

Laschet also distanced himself from the WerteUnion (“Union of Values”), a CDU lobby group advocating tougher conservative political positions that last week elected controversial economist Max Otte as its new president. Although formally a member of the CDU, Otte has said that she voted for the AfD in the 2017 elections.

Laschet’s predecessor, the former candidate for the continuity of Merkel Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, stumbled on the principle of the “firewall” in 2020, resigning the presidency of the CDU after politicians of the branch in neighboring Thuringia voted with the AfD to oust state prime minister Bodo Ramelow from the left-wing Die Linke party.

Saxony-Anhalt is governed by Germany’s first power-sharing agreement between the CDU, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Greens, dubbed the “Kenyan coalition” after the colors of the East African country’s flag.

In theory, at least seven other coalitions would be possible after the June 6 vote, including a quadripartite “Zimbabwe” alliance between the CDU, the Greens, the SPD and the FDP in favor of business.

Some local branches of the party in Saxony Anhalt have mobilized for members to vote for the next coalition agreement, which could encourage some delegates to deviate from the CDU red lines.

Even a minority government tolerated by the far right would violate a taboo in postwar German political culture, especially since the AfD has been campaigning in Saxony-Anhalt with a more openly radical agenda than anywhere else in Germany.

In its party program, the AfD says it wants to introduce a “baby bonus” exclusively for families in which at least one parent has German citizenship, exclude refugee minors from regular classrooms and withhold money from artist taxes that are not “primarily affirmative towards their own German culture.”

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