In the battle for the future CDU presidency, friedrich merz has added to his criticism of the federal government’s migration course.
The former head of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group said on saturday at the state party conference of the saxon CDU in leipzig: "it is not acceptable for the state to admit that it is temporarily losing control over who enters the territory of the federal republic of germany. And then, if there is no other way, border controls must be introduced to prevent unregulated immigration into the federal republic of germany."
Merz, who has been out of active politics for nine years, had already repeatedly criticized migration policy. Alongside CDU secretary general annegret kramp-karrenbauer, he is considered to have the best chance of succeeding angela merkel. Merkel had also announced under the pressure of electoral flops not to run again as CDU chairwoman after 18 years in office. But she wants to remain chancellor until the end of the legislative period.
Kramp-karrenbauer, merz and health minister jens spahn have presented themselves to the grassroots at eight regional conferences in the past two weeks. Their visit to the state party conference in leipzig was probably their last joint appearance before the election at the national party conference in hamburg next friday. A new state parliament will be elected in saxony in the fall of 2019, as well as in brandenburg and thuringia. In all three countries, the afd is at more than 20 percent according to current polls. In addition, the european elections are coming up in may.
Merz said that the CDU must be associated with "loose competence". "The chancellor herself has said that something like 2015/2016 must not be repeated. And I want to emphasize this once again: it must indeed not happen again that we experience such a situation as in 2015/16," he said to applause with a view to the refugee crisis. "By the way, i don’t want to deny the chancellor’s good intentions here," merz added.
He is a convinced european through and through: "but open borders cannot be an invitation to allow an unregulated influx into the federal republic of germany, over which we have not yet regained control. Because there are still about 200.000 to 250.000 migrants in germany whose whereabouts and origins we know nothing about," merz said. "These are things that we simply cannot allow if we don’t want to accept that extreme political parties will emerge from them," he said, referring to the right-wing populist afd party.
Merz had received a lot of opposition within the party for his claim that the CDU had more or less "shrugged off" the rise of the afd. So kramp-karrenbauer had already sharply rejected the revisions.
"You can argue about a lot of things, whether we did everything right there," said kramp-karrenbauer in leipzig. In the past few years, however, "countless members" and campaigners have gone into the debate with the afd. "And anyone who has ever done this knows how much personal strength it takes to face this hatred and hostility on a daily basis."This is the merit of many members: "and they do not deserve to be accused of not having done enough."
Spahn said to the afd: "we have a share of responsibility, also in the leadership of the CDU, that they now exist in 16 state parliaments and in the bundestag."The cdu leaders had to go to the afd’s strongholds and seek an unbiased discussion of where the cdu had lost voters: "what we need, after all, is an afd voter dropout program."
Merz himself reaffirmed his criticism. "Parts of the CDU underestimate the political danger posed by the afd," he told the "spiegel" newspaper. It is unacceptable that the afd has seats in all state parliaments and 12.6 percent in the federal parliament. "And I have the confidence to change that," he added. "It sends shivers down my spine when people in this country walk through the neighborhood with a hitlergrub," merz told the news magazine. "We have to do something about that. That’s what drives me and keeps me going."