The chairmen of the CDU and CSU, Friedrich Merz and Markus Söder, demonstrated a new solidarity after the historic disaster of the Union in the federal election. Söder admitted on Saturday at the CDU party conference in Hanover to the applause of the delegates that mistakes had been made last year, "of course also by me". After Söder's speech to the Bavarian Prime Minister, Merz said that they work and fight well, in a friendly and trusting manner. "We are closed like never before."
At the two-day party conference, the CDU delegates decided on the gradual and temporary introduction of a women's quota in party bodies and advocated the introduction of a compulsory social year for young people ("social year"). In addition, the first course was set for a new basic program.
At the end of the meeting, Merz exclaimed: "The CDU is back. The CDU is here. It is also at the forefront of the political discussion in our country." The CDU has shown that it is on the way to renewal and new majorities.
Söder praises the CDU for signaling determination and unity
Quite a few in the CDU give CSU boss Söder some responsibility for the failure in the federal election because of his ongoing taunts against the then CDU chairman and Union Chancellor candidate Armin Laschet in the 2021 election campaign. With its historically worst result of 24.1 percent after 16 years in government of Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), the Union fell into the opposition.
Söder now said in front of the delegates: "I know 2021 was not our best year." At the same time he assured: "We have learned from it." The restart in 2022 “not only went better than the left had hoped”. The cooperation in the parliamentary group and party "especially with your chairman, dear Friedrich, is going excellently, better than we both would have expected." It is an open secret in the Union that the relationship between Merz and Söder was not always the best.
The CSU boss flattered the CDU delegates right at the beginning of his speech and said he could bring the warm greetings to "the little sister CSU". He followed the party congress with respect. The CDU meeting was "a great signal of determination and unity". It suits the Union "if we join hands, if we stand together".
Merz: Expand common ground in Union
Merz warned that he and Söder "have a responsibility for the entire Union, which we fill and exercise with different functions". Every effort will be made to "maintain and expand these commonalities and to show that we really together, the CDU and CSU, are number one in Germany and will remain so beyond 2022," said Merz against the background of surveys, who see the Union ahead of the SPD and the Greens.
The most important decisions of the CDU party conference:
quota for women
On Friday evening, after decades of dispute, the delegates decided to gradually introduce a quota for women. 559 delegates voted for the compromise presented by Merz to limit the quota to the end of 2029. At least 501 votes were needed. 409 delegates voted no, eleven abstained. Above all, the CDU offspring from the Junge Union (JU) and the MIT association of medium-sized companies had opposed the quota.
The regulation provides for the gradual introduction of a women's quota of up to 50 percent by 2025, starting with board elections at district level. With their approval, the delegates saved Merz the first setback in his seven-month term of office.
Compulsory Company Year
The CDU calls for the introduction of a mandatory social year, called the year of society. The majority of the delegates rejected a voluntary variant. The Society Year is intended to enable young people to "temporarily and concretely get involved in our country and in our society". The service should be flexible, "whether in social institutions, in hospitals, in the armed forces, in civil defense at the THW or the fire brigade, through recognized aid organizations abroad or in sports and culture or in nature and environmental protection associations". The service should be remunerated with an "attractive service fee".
Equality should be part of the new basic programme
After the approval of a women's quota, its opponents in JU and MIT also suffered a defeat in a debate about the demand for equality between women and men. The party congress voted to include the goal of equal rights as well as equality in the new policy. The term "bourgeois" is to be included in the program. The demands are part of a so-called charter of fundamental values, which, according to the decision of the party congress, contains the content of the guidelines for the party’s new basic program planned for 2024. The current basic program dates from 2007.