At the end of the debate, Friedrich Merz took the floor himself. The CDU leader steps up to the lectern and looks around the room, once to the left and once to the right. "Friends," he says, "that's the passion I've always wanted for this party." Big applause, a few cheers. Now this otherwise rather boring party conference had become really exciting. And Merz must have felt at that moment that maybe everything would be fine after all.