Germany: CDU at odds over stance on AfD

Friedrich Merz, leader of Germany's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has triggered fierce criticism also within his own ranks with statements about potential ways to deal with the far-right AfD at the municipal level. These would contradict the CDU's declaration of incompatibility with the AfD, which excludes cooperation with the party on the grounds that it tolerates right-wing extremist ideas, anti-Semitism and racism.

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Der Standard (AT) /

Focus on opposition work

The zigzag course under Friedrich Merz is damaging the reputation of German politics as a whole, Der Standard sighs:

“Two things are as remarkable as they are unacceptable about this process. Firstly, the CDU leader is of the opinion that a party can be less radical at the local level than at the federal or state level. This is nonsense. The sad truth is that hate and agitation are everywhere. Secondly, Merz completely misjudges the mood in his own party. ... The CDU should offer substantive counter-proposals to the German traffic light coalition, not fill the summer slump by flirting with the AfD.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Merz is no good at this

Merz has put his foot in it again, the taz criticises:

“Time and again, the conservative opposition leader rushes ahead with statements, then backs out or fails to go through with his promises. This is often bad for Merz's party, because his outbursts draw all the attention to himself and the programme of the opposition falls by the wayside. This is another reason why, according to the polls, dissatisfaction with the traffic light coalition is not playing into the hands of the CDU. In his dealings with the AfD and its discourses, however, Merz's mistakes are dangerous. The CDU needs a leader who can steer the party through these challenging times with a clear compass and considerable political tact. It is becoming increasingly clear: Merz is not capable of this.”

Aargauer Zeitung (CH) /

A little more composure, please!

The AfD as a political force cannot be ignored in the long run, the Aargauer Zeitung asserts:

“Figures like the far-right Björn Höcke shape the AfD. No democratic politician should flirt with a party that has such people in its ranks. Nevertheless, the party is on the rise. Particularly in smaller communities the established parties will have to get used to AfD mayors or district councillors. And, whether they like it or not, they will have to come up with pragmatic solutions. That is the reality that Merz gave words to. No more and no less. Acknowledging this does not mean making the right-wing party acceptable as a potential coalition partner at the state or even federal level. So a little more composure would do the debate in Germany a lot of good.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Faced with a dilemma

Lidové noviny takes stock:

“The entire debate that Merz's statement has sparked reveals his dilemma. As CDU leader he is trying to win back the votes of conservative voters who left the CDU when long-time chancellor Angela Merkel led the party. Many of them switched allegiances and started voting for the AfD. However if he goes in this direction, he risks losing voters in the political centre who might seek refuge in the Greens or the liberals.”