Anyone who has followed the media in recent days could easily think that this week is a fateful week for Germany. The union parties and with them their committees and associations are at odds over the K-question and the editorials are out of whack. Laschet or Söder? Who should become Chancellor candidate and possible Merkel successor? For an outsider who at most still regards such questions with cynicism and at best amuses the political gossip bases á la Robin Alexander or Albrecht von Lucke, this debate is tiresome. Although politics sells over faces; however, the attempt to look at the K-question analytically resembles the attempt to nail a pudding to the wall. Which of the two grandmasters of opportunism now leads the C-parties into the election is ultimately more of a cosmetic question, since the power centers remain the same in the background.
What does Armin Laschet stand for? Quality journalists from major newspapers could certainly fill entire pages on this question. But why? The more interesting question is actually: Does Armin Laschet stand for anything at all? Does he have any convictions? In order to approach these more fundamental questions, a look at his positions on the corona topic is actually enough. As long as it seemed opportune to him, Laschet represented a rather differentiated line here compared to other CDU politicians. He quickly became the captain of the “Open team"in the public debate. Media love such personalizations and generalizations. And since his competitor in the K-question likes to present himself in public as captain of the “team Caution”, the media once again had something to write. Wonderful.
But anyone who now thinks that Armin Laschet is one who sees the corona policy itself critically or at least differentiated, was quickly mistaken. As soon as the opinion polls, sparked by the drumfire of the media, solidified the majorities for a rigid lockdown policy, the candidate threw his supposed convictions overboard and announced pregnant with meaning that he wanted to think about Easter first. What exactly he thought about the holidays is not known. What is more likely is that he did not even think about it, but let his campaign managers and party friends convince him that he only has a chance of being a candidate if he makes a quick 180-degree turn on the corona floor. The “bridge lockdown"was born. The captain of the” Open team “changed to the"Team Caution”. In the USA such politicians are called “flip-floppers”, in Germany they would probably have to be called opportunists. And Laschet is a true Grand master of opportunism.
Even in progressive circles, Laschet has long been praised for his comparatively differentiated position on foreign policy issues. For example, von Laschet’s statements about Russia or Syria have indeed been handed down, which could actually give rise to the hope that this is a politician with a backbone who is capable of differentiation, at least in homeopathic doses. But as soon as his statements stood in his way in the run-up to the election for the CDU presidency, he quickly distanced himself from them. Convictions are manoeuvring ground for a Union politician who is considered a “papabile”.
Does Laschet have any convictions? Hardly. If Laschet tweeted “moderate” tones towards Moscow, this was probably due to the influence of the large NRW political brokers in the background such as RWE and E. ON, rather than to the convictions of the man who asserts himself to have been “socialized Transatlantic since his earliest youth”. And his initially differentiated line on the corona theme may also not have been a birth of conviction, but a concession to the interests of the economy. But with the office, or at least the prospect of an office, the political brokers and their wishes also change.
And what about Markus Söder? Söder is one of the few politicians to whom not even an Armin Laschet can reach the water in terms of opportunism. Sometimes he gives the hardliner and reactionary who, for example, in the time of the refugee crisis, wanted to turn voters away from the emerging AfD with harsh slogans against migrants. Sometimes he gives the greenfinch, who wants to save the bees and with brisk, but little credible environmental initiatives to offer the rising green Paroli. Over the past year, Söder has positioned himself primarily as a hardliner on corona, showing which bodies he is willing to walk over in order to push his poll numbers. But this too is probably pure power politics. Every bet - as soon as public opinion shifts, Söder will also hang his flag in the wind and demand “careful openings”. And that won’t last that long. He is an Opportunist.
What Söder stands for, what he thinks and whether he has any convictions at all remains murky with all his quite skilful self-marketing. The only thing that is certain is what and where Markus Söder wants to go – to the very top.
Seen in this way, both Laschet and Söder are politicians of the new type. Politicians who have no convictions, no visions and no backbone. They have learned a lot from the Chancellor and probably the “system Merkel” only allowed such opportunists to come so far up that they can inherit the Chancellor one day.
What we can expect for the K-question and a possible chancellorship of the two diadochs is therefore less a question of the persons themselves, but rather a question of the networks and power centers behind these persons. For example, one has to ask oneself why a Friedrich Merz of all people is now so vehemently in favour of Armin Laschet. And why does Norbert Röttgen not admit to being “his” party leader and campaign between the lines for Markus Söder? One thing should be clear: the recommendation of these two power politicians is not free and they are not the only ones who will let their support and favors cost something. The national associations in particular are expected to announce their prize for support with teams of the two candidates this week.
Therefore, it is actually more of a cosmetic question which candidate leads the C-parties in the upcoming election campaign as a leading candidate. The skins should already be distributed and not the candidates, but the networks in the background determine what will later become politics apart from the campaign rhetoric. And there can be fear and anxiety. As our editor Albrecht Müller underlined once again at the beginning of the year, the CDU – just like the CSU – is and remains a reactionary party at its core, which is to be located on the right edge, above all in the fields of foreign, security, social, economic and financial policy. The K-question does not change that at all. So please do not let yourself be hounded. Which of the two opportunists will be the “friendly” face of this reactionary party in the future is ultimately rather secondary and by no means a matter of fate for the country. However, the whole press frenzy already has an advantage for the Union parties. The corruption cases in their ranks seem to have somehow already been forgotten. Or am I wrong?