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And the former MEP took an extraordinary swipe at the outgoing Chancellor as he considered who would succeed her, tartly observing: “Not everything just gets better if you have a woman.” Mr Merz, who was narrowly defeated by Armin Laschet in the CDU leadership contest in January, made his remarks during a current affairs programme hosted by German political journalist Maybrit Illner on German’s ZDF channel.
The risk has grown big
During the course of the programme, he voiced his concerns about the tortuous process by which the CDU appoints people to the chairmanship, or leadership, of the party.
Referring to Mrs Merkel’s own admission in 2018 that she was taking a “risk” in giving up the CDU chairmanship while carrying on as chairman, Mr Merz said: “The risk has grown big.”
He explained: “After three big chancellorships, Adenauer, Kohl and Merkel, the CDU has not managed to properly organise the succession in the respective party chairmanships.
Angela Merkel was singled out for blame by Friedrich Merz
Friedrich Merz narrowly lost out to Armin Laschet in January
“Erhard was only in office for one year, Wolfgang Schaeuble for one and a half years and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer for two.
“The recruiting mechanisms and the succession mechanisms work much worse in politics than in any enterprise.”
Mr Merz, who served as the CDU parliamentary group’s vice-chairman under Mrs Merkel from 2002 to 2004, stressed the importance of streamlining the tortuous way in which the party elects its chairmanship in the future.
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Angela Merkel and successor as CDU leader Annegret Kramp Karrenbauer
He said: “In the next election period we have to make sure that we are positioned so broadly, that such proceedings don’t repeat themselves.
“Broad means, no primaries. For example, the staffing of the Federal Cabinet should be in such a way that successions can be organised from the Federal Cabinet.
“I think we have not done this well enough in the last years. And this has to be done better.
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Annalena Baerbock, the Green candidate for Chancellor
Armin Laschet is the CDU’s leader – and candidate for Chancellor
“We have done this better before. Helmut Kohl has done this much better in his first eight years, but then not so much in the second set of eight years.”
Asked by Cem Özdemir of the Greens whether the CDU should make politics more appealing for women, he replied: “Yes that is certainly one point, although, as you can see with Angela Merkel, not everything just gets better if you have a woman.”
He also agreed with journalist Markus Feldenkirchen’s suggestion that the saga was a “damning verdict” on the current Federal Cabinet, saying: “This is unfortunately also the finding that irritates me. It is indeed true. We do have a problem here.”
Mr Laschet is the CDU’s candidate for Chancellor, with chief rival Markus Soeder, leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the CDU’s sister party, conceding earlier this week.
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However, with a poll on Tuesday showing the CDU, on 21 points, trailing the Greens, on 28 points, five months before Germany’s federal elections there is no guarantee he will replace Mrs Merkel in the top job when she steps down later this year.
A separate poll published yesterday suggested Germany’s business community favours Greens candidate Annalena Baerbock to Mr Laschet
Mrs Baerbock said on Monday she would run to become chancellor at the September 26 election, the first time the left-leaning ecologist party has sought the top job in its 40-year history.
The Civey poll of 1,500 executives for WirtschaftsWoche magazine, conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday, suggested 26.5 percent favoured Mrs Baerbock for chancellor, ahead of Christian Lindner of the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) on 16.2 percent.
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Mr Laschet was on 14.3 percent support, with the Social Democrat’s Olaf Scholz on 10.5 percent, and 32.5 percent of respondents undecided.
Mrs Baerbock, 40, a former champion trampolinist and mother of two, has pledged a “new start” with a focus on investing in education, digital and green technologies.
She has seen support for her party rise over the past year to within a few points of the CDU.
Many conservatives are fearful about their chances without Mrs Merkel, who has led them to four consecutive election victories.
(Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg)