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Merz and Söder – united against the Greens

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Status: 04.08.2022 17:09

CDU and CSU leaders insist on longer terms for nuclear power plants. A subject that plays into the hands of the parties of the Union for several reasons.

By Daniel Pokraka, ARD Capital Studio

If you didn’t know better, you might confuse Friedrich Merz with Markus Söder’s bodyguard. The CDU chief wears sunglasses and looks grim as he stands next to the CSU chief after touring the Isar II nuclear power plant together.

Normally, Merz now presents herself differently than before, in her first political life at the turn of the millennium: more open, friendlier, more sympathetic – less harsh. He even gave a “Bunte” interview with his wife. It’s about home, family, faith, equality, jogging and Udo Jürgens.

Merz and Söder put the Greens under pressure

The press conference at the Isar I nuclear power plant, however, aims to push the government forward. Merz says a quick decision on longer terms is needed; discussions with plant officials have completely convinced him and Söder that continued operation is technically, personally and legally possible.

Söder repeats several times “it is time to act”, and above all he specifies who is the main brake in Berlin: the Greens, whom he indirectly accuses of spreading “untruths” in the debate on the extension of the duration operation of nuclear power plants. The term “fake news” is also mentioned.

The nuclear debate offers the CDU and CSU an opportunity to put the Greens in trouble. They can only lose in the argument: either they stand there as the main horseman because they do not allow the exploitation to continue even in an emergency – or two federal green ministers among all must postpone the final phase-out of nuclear energy by several months or even years. Söder happily mentions that the Green City Council faction in Munich wants to extend the term of Isar II under certain circumstances.

Merz requests energy from Scholz for nuclear power plants

Söder and Merz are trying this afternoon to present themselves as the voice of reason in energy policy. Of course, the Union also wants to phase out nuclear power, but that is simply not possible today. Merz proposes to the traffic light coalition a special session of the Bundestag during the summer break to amend the law on atomic energy. Chancellor Scholz must do more than – like yesterday – describe an extension of the mandate as possibly useful: he should please exercise his political competence as chancellor.

This afternoon in Bavaria, while Merz and Söder are talking, we almost forget what a big part the CDU and CSU have in Germany’s energy problems: gas from Russia has long been very well received by the parties of the Union and in particular the CSU in Bavaria, power lines and wind turbines which have become intensive in certain cases fought, the energy transition slowed down rather than favored.

The Union is clearly ahead in the polls

The Union parties do not seem to take it particularly badly. In the polls, they are consistently ahead of the Greens and well ahead of the SPD. However, this snapshot of the first quarter of the Legislature is probably not worth much, and if there were a federal election campaign in the near future, the political competition, currently very much in charge of governing, would certainly point expressly to the responsibility for the problems of today.

It is possible that many members of the CDU and CSU are not at all sorry that they do not have to govern. A “Bavaria against Berlin” election campaign, which is looming a good year before the elections in Bavaria, is only possible with full force if the Union does not govern itself in the capital. And the CDU is still digesting its worst result in the federal elections and the loss of the chancellery. Work on the new policy has only just begun. Where does the CDU position itself in the party system in the medium term? How does it combine, for example, strong public finances, social security and investments in climate protection? If you want to return to the Chancellery, you must respond convincingly.

Promise everything is only possible in opposition

In opposition, the Union can afford to repeatedly demand solid finances from the state and at the same time demand costly relief: less VAT on food, support for low wages, relief from middle and upper classes by scrapping cold-rolling, money from the federal government to the states for a successor to the 9-euro note. During election campaigns, this maneuver would likely get you caught.

In addition, the Union will at some point be confronted with question K: with which candidate for chancellor will you participate in the next federal election campaign? Merz or Soder? Or someone completely different, like one of this year’s election winners, Daniel Günther or Hendrik Wüst?

The Union still does not have the ideal candidate for the chancellery

From now on, the political competition would have the most popular candidates (Scholz for the SPD, Habeck or Baerbock for the Greens). And Union 2021 showed how to play a good starting position through self-harm and questionable candidate selection. Preventing something like this in 2025 (or before) – that will be the real challenge for the Merz/Söder duo.

Their appearance today shows who they have identified as the main opponent: the Greens, who are well above and in Bavaria by around 20% in the national polls. The fact that black-green coalitions are conceivable only seems contradictory.

Source www.tagesschau.de

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