The arch-conservative Values Union has appointed the former President of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Hans-Georg Maassen, as its chairman. The 60-year-old was elected on Saturday at a general meeting in North Rhine-Westphalia with 95 percent of the votes, according to the group. Maassen was the only candidate. The Union of Values did not want to disclose the exact location of the non-public meeting. It is not an official union association. According to its own statements, it has around 4,000 members - not all of them are also members of the CDU or CSU.
For years, Maaßen has repeatedly caused controversy with controversial statements. In the past few days he had again come under heavy criticism. In a tweet he claimed that the thrust of the "driving forces in the political and media space" was "eliminatory racism against whites". In an interview he spoke of a "red-green racial theory". As a result, several CDU politicians called on him to leave the party or threatened to apply to be expelled from the party. Maassen is a member of the Thuringian CDU, but has no office or function in the state association.
Haldenwang speaks of "very radical statements"
The current President of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Thomas Haldenwang, accused his predecessor in the office of damaging the agency with radical right-wing statements. "Because we are always associated with such things," said Haldenwang on Deutschlandfunk. Haldenwang said of Maassen "that he appears through very radical statements, statements which I can really only perceive in a similar way from the extreme right of political aspirations". He agrees with statements made by the federal government's anti-Semitism commissioner, Felix Klein, "who clearly sees anti-Semitic content here (...)".
The Value Union defended its new chairman. Haldenwang's current statements are "an unsuitable attempt" to make Maassen close to anti-Semitism. "They are just as free of evidence as they are absurd," it said in a statement. At no point in time had Maassen made any anti-Semitic statement, nor was there any statement that could have been interpreted in the direction of anti-Semitism.
The chair had been vacant since Max Otte's resignation a year ago. Otte had been nominated for the AfD as a candidate for the office of Federal President. In the meantime he has also been expelled from the CDU.