"Together, not against each other" – this is how Markus Söder had the future relationship between CDU and Christian Social Union shortly after his election as party leader in mid-January. On this Tuesday, the CSU leader and the still quite new chairman of the CDU, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, now for the first time together in front of the press to explain how they specifically imagine.
At least with kind words they did not miss it. That was a "very good and intensive meeting", enthused Kramp-Karrenbauer about the conversation in the Berlin party headquarters, which had been about joint priorities for the coming year. Söder, on the other hand, made every effort to underline this impression in terms of body language. When the "dear Annegret" spoke, he kindly turned to the CDU chairman, whom he towered over several main lengths, and nodded persistently. And at every opportunity both sentences flowed in, like "I really liked what you said" or "I would like to emphasize that".
The dispute between the two sister parties, which had been held after the refugee year 2015 in hitherto barely known hardness and even in the early summer almost had blown up the government, should – so the message – be finally forgotten. They are entering a new phase of cooperation, Söder assured. After getting to know him and Kramp-Karrenbauer, start in "constructive working mode".
Talk to each other more often
The two have already shown a first proof: For the first time one had the day before "a telephone connection revive, which was interrupted since 2016", so that the closer guidance circles of CDU and CSU could now have exchanged directly again, reported Kramp-Karrenbauer and did not hesitate to use the word "historical" in this context. Also, four-eyes meetings with Söder should become a permanent institution in the future.
If you believe the two, then the Union has a common line again. "The CDU has rediscovered its conservative soul," Söder praised his colleague. The CSU in turn had "spread out". Now you can "grow together organically".
What the two have planned as a work program, remains for the time being, however, quite vague. On the one hand, a particular focus will be on the question of how economic dynamics can be generated in spite of worsening economic data. In addition, it will go to "intelligent environmental and climate protection", which does not lead to "deindustrialization". The two parties also want to take a closer look at security. In addition, joint events are planned for the big anniversaries of this year – also with a view to the state elections in the East: 70 years of the Basic Law and 30 years of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Common European election campaign
The CDU and CSU want to demonstrate similarity in the European elections: for the first time, they will not only draw with a common leading candidate, the EPP parliamentary group leader in the European Parliament Manfred Weber, but also with a joint program in the European election campaign, including joint campaign start and closing events ,
Asked why the harmony between the sister parties this time should last longer than similar efforts by Angela Merkel and Horst Seehofer, for example, in the run-up to the election, Söder gave a simple answer. "You made mistakes and recognized mistakes," he said. Before doing so, the most likely one is the miserable state election result for the CSU in Bavaria. That this also had to do with the dispute between the sister parties, is now considered in the CSU as a general place.
Söder did not dispute that it would not be possible without a CSU profile of its own in the future. But it would be "profile with style," he promised. On the question of whether he sees himself as a cook or a waiter when he sits in the coalition committee with Merkel in the future, he would rather not get involved. Everyone has their place in a large kitchen, he said instead. "Teamwork" is the new magic word of the CSU chief, which many had just hoped for in this regard, especially not so much.