Chancellor Angela Merkel′s CDU conservatives debate a rightward shift | News | DW | 24.02.2018
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Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU conservatives debate a rightward shift

Chancellor Angela Merkel's upcoming cabinet picks will signal whether the CDU remains in the political center. She faces calls from senior party members to move right in an effort to regain voters the party lost in 2017.

Senior figures of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) voiced their views on the party's direction to German media outlets this weekend, ahead of Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet selections on Sunday and the party's vote on the grand coalition agreement, to take place on Monday.

Read more: Merkel taps possible successor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as next CDU secretary general

While the SPD members vote over whether to join the grand coalition, Merkel's conservatives are doing some soul searching over whether their party should remain in the center, as it has throughout her leadership, or shift to the right to try and win back lost voters.

CDU Jens Spahn (pictue-alliance/Sven Simon/M. Ossowski)

Jens Spahn has been a vocal critic of Merkel's refugee policy, many hope he can join the new cabinet as an overture to less-centrist voices

"Sometimes the conservative element of the conservative bloc could be more prominent," the CDU premier of the state of Schleswig Holstein, Daniel Günther, told the Neue Osnabrücker newspaper.

Senior Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) conservative Alexander Dobrindt told the Passauer Neue Presse that "the conservative bloc must cover the spectrum from the center to the democratic right."

The appeal to pull the party away from the center is grounded on the parliamentary election result of September 2017. Although the CDU received the most votes, the conservatives lost support to the far-right AfD and slumped to their lowest finish since 1949.

Read more: AfD stronghold Pasewalk: Right-wing party makes gains with those who feel forgotten and frustrated

But Armin Laschet, premier for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state, warned against further shifts to the right. Laschet said the party did not base its political program on the voters that they gathered from the right.

His counterpart from the state of Hesse, Volker Bouffier, elaborated on the same idea to the weekly Focus magazine, asserting that while the CDU has its voting base in the political middle, including left and right, but as a party it was not a "movement of coalitions."

Merkel's upcoming six CDU cabinet picks will send an important signal about the policy direction of her party in the next four years and indicate where she lies on the debate.

Read more: Germany's Angela Merkel decries right-wing populism as 'poison' at Davos summit

German media reported on Saturday that Merkel would tap Jens Spahn to be the new federal health minister. Spahn has been an outspoken critic of Merkel's refugee policy. By choosing him for a cabinet position, Merkel could be showing that she wants to open the party to the right.

Long-standing Merkel ally Peter Altmaier is expected to become the new head of the Economy Ministry, while Ursula von der Leyen will likely remain as defense minister, both of which are more representative of the CDU establishment.

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