CDU backbenchers critical of Merkel


THE GERMAN Chancellor has come under attack by party backbenchers, who have accused her of abandoning core principles of the ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) in a failed attempt to attract support.

After a run of regional election disasters, nervous CDU backbenchers have questioned the wisdom of what they call Angela Merkel’s “poll-driven, instant politics”.

“We are abandoning the issues that appeal to our core clientele and yet we are not gaining any credibility with new voters,” CDU energy expert Thomas Bareiss said.

He called for the party to play to its traditional strengths. “Easing the burden on the middle classes, securing jobs and domestic security. . . and I can’t bear any more talk of the need to ‘move the party to the centre’.”

This is the argument that Dr Merkel has used to reform the CDU after it scraped back into power in 2009 with reduced support. Aware that a further slide could hamper her re-election in 2013, the German leader’s recent efforts to reinvigorate the party include ending compulsory military service.

With that move barely digested, the Japanese nuclear disaster prompted her to abandon the party’s pro-nuclear policy.

Coming six months after the CDU voted to extend the life of nuclear plants, party rank-and-file MPs are confused about how they can explain being asked to back a shutdown of all plants in the next decade.

“If we have an about-face on nuclear policy, then this has to explained to the citizens and to the CDU voters,” said Peter Hauk, party chief whip in Baden-Württemberg, where the issue cost the CDU power after 50 years.

A similar complaint can be heard from the state of Thuringia, that the new nuclear policy harmed credibility. “One can only improve one’s image with reliability and by pursuing a clear [political] course. Instant politics, such as the reaction to Fukushima, do not yield any results,” said Mike Mohring, CDU chief whip in Erfurt.

The remarks signal the first serious sign of dissent within the CDU against Dr Merkel, a discussion likely to continue in her absence during a visit to India.