The Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, has been elected the new president of the CDU at a renewal of the German Christian Democrats in digital form.
Armin Laschet received 521 votes at the CDU Congress in the second round, his opponent, the conservative Friedrich Merz, won 466 votes. In the first round, although Merz, led mainly by East German provincial delegates, finished in the lead, he was only five percent ahead of Laschet. The third candidate, Norbert Röttgen, chairman of the German Bundestag’s foreign affairs committee, was then awarded 224 votes, leaving him out of further competition. In his first speech, Laschet, who was elected party chairman in December 2018, thanked him for “great trust”. Already in his pre-election speech, he was noticeably distant from Merz. As he put it, we need unity and a team captain who holds the party together. In contrast, Merz highlighted the importance of a future leader. The result of the party presidential election will be official on Friday, when the votes cast in the letter will be announced. But the paper will only have Laschet’s name on it, meaning delegates will have to decide in relation to him whether to accept him as their new president or not. Laschet, by the way, asked for membership to be supported in the votes cast in the letter, and thanked Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who had been president so far, for her work so far. He also highlighted the exceptional relationship with the other union party, the Christian Social CSU. There was a big difference in how Merz and Röttgen received the result. The former congratulated the new party chairman, but did not say he was willing to cooperate with Laschet. He could make the same mistake as in 2018, when he was left a hair’s breadth down against Kramp-Karrenbauer, but after the election, he did nothing to help the work of the then-elected party chairman, but retreated into the background offended. Norbert Röttgen, on the other hand, assured Armin Laschet of his full support and also said that cooperation was needed. The most important question is whether Armin Laschet will be the candidate for Chancellor of the Union Parties, thus – presumably at least – the successor of Chancellor Angela Merkel. According to opinion polls, although much more popular than him is Markus Söder, president of the CSU, Bavarian prime minister, but Laschet – remember: North Rhine-Westphalia is the CDU’s most important member organization – is unlikely to give him the chancellery. Laschet seems a little soft at first, but is actually a big fighter. In addition, about six percent of the CDU’s about 36 percent of its popularity falls on the CSU, which operates only in Bavaria, giving Christian Democrats less political weight. And third, Lasche is a very important link in the CDU, hardly anyone in the leadership of the Christian Democrats, to stand aside for Söder.
What can the Hungarian government expect?
Armin Laschet is considered a man of continuity, who will follow Merkel’s line, but – based on his statements so far – it may be even more permissive towards the Hungarian government than the chancellor still in office. This is confirmed by his recent statement that finding a European solution to the refugee crisis does not mean that all 27 countries must do the same and that Hungary cannot be forced to take in refugees. Laschet has been very cordial in the past with the Orbán government and its representatives. He was reluctant to openly criticize the Budapest cabinet. In 2016, on the 60th anniversary of the 1956 revolution, Péter Szijjártó received the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and although the Orbán government had already adopted a number of internationally resonant anti-democratic laws, Laschet made no reference to this. He called it a joy that Hungary is a member of the EU, reminded him of the opening of the border and emphasized that “we can thank Hungary a lot.” With some benevolence, we can call the following statement a little criticism: “Common European values of freedom, the rule of law and solidarity must form the basis of solutions to the current EU challenges”. Laschet’s exceptional caution can be explained by the fact that, among the German provinces, North Rhine-Westphalia is the largest investor in Hungary, ahead of Bavaria. A few tens of thousands of Hungarians live in the province and there is multi-level cooperation between Hungary and North Rhine-Westphalia.
Source: Népszava by nepszava.hu.
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