Merkel’s Bad Legacy: How the German leader failed to keep his party in power

Angela Merkel will go down in history as one of Germany’s most successful chancellors. But for the Conservatives, his party’s defeat in last month’s national election has become an unforgettable part of his record.

Merkel fails in the most basic job of a senior politician: keeping her party in power. The September 26 election was to return his Christian Democratic Union to office, this time under Armin Lachet. Instead, Lachet and the party performed disastrously. Many are now blaming Merkel, the CDU’s longtime figure, for ignoring an elected successor and alienating its core conservative voters.

“The CDU is at a low point in its history and of course people will ask how much Merkel has contributed, among other things,” said Christoph Plus, CDU MP and head of the party’s Hamburg branch. “After all, he was the leader of our team for 18 years.”

Others are more disgusting. “He really neglected the team year after year,” said one conservative backbencher. “Look at the state he left. It’s part of his legacy.”

Merkel’s CDU, along with her Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, received only 24.1 percent of the vote – about 9 percent in 2017. Sees itself as a normal party of government.

The Social Democrats and their candidate, Finance Minister Olaf Schulz, won a very small number in this election. The SPD has been in talks with Greens and Liberal Democrats since the 1950s to form Germany’s first three-party coalition government.

The day the talks began, CDU / CSU candidate for chancellor Lachett was under pressure from within his party and indicated he was ready to resign. If he does, the CDU will face its third leadership election in less than three years.

Former CDU leader Anagret Kramp-Karenbauer finds himself trapped in Merkel’s shadow © Marcus Schreiber / AP

Many blame the poor electoral performance of the CDU / CSU in Laschett, whose approval ratings have always lagged far behind Scholes, and say the CSU leader should have run the party instead of the popular Marcus Soder. “The cardinal error was choosing a candidate who did not connect with the majority of voters and did so against the wishes of the party’s rank-and-file,” Plus said.

It was a decision that Merkel, who wanted to stay out of internal party politics since she resigned as leader in 2010, had no hand.

But some senior Christian Democrats say Merkel is at least partly responsible for the CDU’s plight.

First, he stepped down as party leader in 2018 but decided to remain as chancellor. This means that both of his successors as party leaders প্রথম first Anigret Kramp কার Karenbauer, then Lashett সংগ্রাম have struggled to come out of his shadow.

Cramp-Karenbauer, widely seen as Merkel’s preferred successor, has been the leader for more than a year. Resigning in February 2020, he said he had completed the two jobs of chancellor and party leader “in one hand.” The remarks were seen at the time as criticism of Merkel’s refusal to make her way to the Chancellery.

Wolfgang Schবেuble, Merkel’s finance minister for eight years and now president of the Bundestag, echoed that sentiment, saying in an interview with the Tagspigel newspaper last month that she was “firmly convinced that the two jobs [of party leader and chancellor] Must be done by the same person. “

Laschet sees himself trying to run in the shadow of “a successful, veteran chancellor,” Schবলbel advised. “She can’t say, ‘We’re going to do everything differently,’ but she can’t say, ‘We’re going to run normally.’

Wolfgang Schবলuble saw Angela Merkel give a speech last year

Bundestag President Wolfgang Shobel, left, sees Angela Merkel speaking in the chamber last year via Get Tobias Schwartz / AFP Getty Images

Merkel’s decision to resign from the CDU chair also sparked a power struggle between her liberal and conservative factions in the party, including both Cramp-Karenbauer and Lachett – seen as moderate moderates with the chancellor – facing further snaps from the more right-wing camp. This is a conflict that remains unresolved.

Some at the CDU have also accused Merkel of tarnishing the party’s image. The Christian Democrats came to dominate the center of German politics: its governments pursued a modernization agenda, introduced minimum wages, abolished compulsory military service, shut down Germany’s nuclear power plants, and introduced same-sex marriage.

In the process, he opened the CDU to middle-class voters. But he isolated conservatives in the party. Anger intensified after the decision to repatriate millions of Syrian war refugees in 2015, a move that angered hardliners and led to a mass exodus of traditional conservative voters to the right-wing alternative to Germany.

“Over the years, we have only formulated socio-democratic policies,” the CDU backbencher said. “We lost our profile.”

Some even began to wonder if Merkel was more sympathetic to the Greens than to her own team. He was outraged to find the head of the School Strike Campaign in Germany, Fridays for the Future, climate activists Greta Thanberg and Louisa Newbauer at the Chancellery last year.

“It’s fair to ask if Merkel even wanted anyone from the CDU to succeed,” said Andreas Roder, a historian at the University of Mainz. “Especially after the Greta incident, you can understand why people would have serious doubts about it.”

Conservative lawmakers say that even after 16 years of Merkel’s centrist policy, voters did not know what the CDU was up to.

“The survey shows that we lost in areas that should be our core competencies – issues such as foreign and economic policy,” Plus said. “The clear decision from this election is that the CDU needs to expand its application further.”

Some are drawing personal conclusions. Cramp-Karenbauer and Economy Minister Peter Altmeyer announced Saturday that they would not take their Bundestag seats, paving the way for young colleagues.

“After such a defeat, CDU. . . You have to renew yourself, “Altmeyer said.” It was clear to me on election night. And everyone must start with themselves. “

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