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Germany: CDU leader rules out cooperation with far-right AfD

August 27, 2023

"A no is a no," said Friedrich Merz, chairman of the largest German opposition party CDU. He has pledged not to cooperate with the far-right AfD at any level.

Friedrich Merz, CDU leader
Friedrich Merz said that majorities can be formed in all parliaments in Germany, including all local councils, without the AfDImage: Frank Hoermann/Sven Simon/IMAGO

The leader of Germany's largest opposition party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has once again ruled out any cooperation between his party and the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD) at all levels of government.

"We have a clear position in the CDU. We don't work with the AfD. Not in the parliaments, not in the local councils," Friedrich Merz said on Sunday in an interview with the German broadcaster ARD.

When asked if that also applied at the municipal level, he added: "A no is a no. Also at the municipal level."

Dealing with the German far-right AfD on a local level

Center-right vs far-right

The CDU's position on the AfD was questioned after Merz gave an interview to another major German broadcaster, ZDF, in July.

In the ZDF interview, Merz said that if the AfD won positions of a district administrator in Thuringia and a mayor in Saxony-Anhalt, then these were democratic elections and his Christian Democrats "have to accept that."

Merz's statements were then interpreted as a softening of his party's position regarding the right-wing populists. The CDU leader had then backtracked on the idea of local cooperation with the AfD following a backlash from within his own ranks.

German politician backtracks on AfD comments

"There are majorities without AfD"

In the ARD interview on Sunday, Merz emphasized that his July comment referred not only to the CDU and the AfD was "a challenge for all parties."

"We have to look for ways and we will find these ways," he said. There are "majorities in all parliaments in Germany, including all local councils, without the AfD," according to Merz

The nationalist and anti-immigrant AfD, founded a decade ago, recently hit a new high in a nationwide opinion poll, but the idea of working with the party is taboo for Germany's mainstream politicians.

dh/dj (dpa, Reuters)

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