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Friedrich Merz: Berlin’s governing mayor distances himself from the statement

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Friedrich Merz: Berlin’s governing mayor distances himself from the statement

Germany dealing with the AfD

Berlin’s governing mayor distances himself from Merz’s statement

Status: 23.07.2023 | Reading time: 3 minutes

CDU leader Friedrich Merz next to the Berlin CDU leader and governing mayor Kai Wegner

Source: pa/dpa/Jörg Carstensen

In the ZDF summer interview, Friedrich Merz affirmed on the one hand that there could be no cooperation between the CDU and AfD at federal or state level. At municipal level, however, he advocates a more pragmatic approach. This caused criticism from within their own ranks – and from the Greens.

Berlin’s Governing Mayor Kai Wegner has sharply distanced himself from the statements made by his party leader Friedrich Merz (both CDU) about possible cooperation with the AfD at the local level. “The AfD only knows opposition and division. Where should there be COLLABORATION? The CDU cannot, will not and will not work with a party whose business model is hatred, division and exclusion,” Wegner wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

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In the ZDF summer interview on Sunday, Merz reaffirmed that the Union would not cooperate with the AfD. However, he now limited this to “legislative bodies” with elected representatives, for example at the European, federal or state level. If a district administrator in Thuringia and a mayor in Saxony-Anhalt were elected by the AfD, then those were democratic elections, said Merz. “We have to accept that. And of course the local parliaments have to look for ways to shape the city, the state, the district together.” However, what exactly he means by that remained unclear in the interview.

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The Vice-President of the Bundestag, Yvonne Magwas, who is also a member of the CDU presidium, wrote on Twitter: “Whether local council or Bundestag, right-wing extremists remain right-wing extremists. For Christian Democrats, right-wing extremists are ALWAYS enemies!”

Green leader Lang: “Now he’s dismantling the firewall a little bit”

AfD chairman Tino Chrupalla also wrote on Twitter: “Now the first stones are falling from the black and green firewall. In the federal states and the federal government, we will tear down the wall together. The winners will be the citizens who regain prosperity, freedom and security through interest-driven politics.”

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Green Party chairwoman Ricarda Lang also criticized Merz on ARD: “First he reduced this party to a better alternative for Germany and now he is building the firewall – which the Union itself has repeatedly invoked – a little bit.”

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Merz against AfD ban

In the ZDF interview, CDU leader Friedrich Merz rejected a ban on the AfD, which was growing in the polls. “Party bans have never resulted in solving a political problem,” he said. The parliamentary group leader called a corresponding proposal by the CDU member of the Bundestag Marko Wanderwitz in the past few days “an individual opinion in the parliamentary group that we do not share”.

When asked what the AfD offers people and what the CDU does not, Merz replied: “We do not measure ourselves against the AfD, we are the largest opposition faction in the German Bundestag. This makes us the alternative to this federal government.” The Union must now provide concepts and regain trust. That is a difficult path. “We’ve been doing really well for a year and a half now. But we still have to improve.”

Merz once again took up a formulation that he had already used on Wednesday at the retreat of the CSU state group in Andechs Monastery in Upper Bavaria. At that time he called the Union an “alternative for Germany with substance”. He now said on ZDF that the opposition is always an alternative to the federal government. That’s how democracy is. “There is a government and of course there is an alternative to this government – ​​for Germany. In Germany, for Germany.”

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