Germany’s CDU warned against courting “shrill” minorities

Merkel confidante advises party to court conservative base in September general election

Peter Altmaier (left) a close confidante of chancellor Angela Merkel, urged the CDU not to alienate the conservative end of the political spectrum by chasing the urban floating voters in the political centre. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters

Peter Altmaier (left) a close confidante of chancellor Angela Merkel, urged the CDU not to alienate the conservative end of the political spectrum by chasing the urban floating voters in the political centre. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters

Wed, Apr 3, 2013, 06:00

German environment minister Peter Altmaier has urged his ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) to court its conservative voter base rather than chase “shrill” minorities ahead of September’s general election.

Mr Altmaier, a close confidante of chancellor Angela Merkel, urged the CDU not to alienate the conservative end of the political spectrum by chasing the urban floating voters in the political centre.

“The CDU should formulate policies acceptable to the majority of people ... and should reject extreme political notions, which applies to tax affairs as well,” he told Die Welt . “One should not pursue shrill interest groups.”

He insisted yesterday his choice of words had nothing to do with a Bavarian ally’s criticism of tax breaks for gay couples. Last month Alexander Dobrindt, general secretary of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union, caused controversy by dismissing gay couples as a “shrill minority”.

Yesterday the environment minister defended his remarks in Die Welt . “Anyone who implies I meant same-sex couples . . . is completely wrong,” he tweeted. “With ‘shrill interest groups’ I meant anyone who views politics only by how it affects themselves.”

Mr Altmaier, a bachelor, has faced repeated questions about his sexuality since moving into Dr Merkel’s cabinet. Last year he told Bild : “The dear Lord has deigned that I go through life alone.”