Aln the Konrad-Adenauer-Haus in Berlin at 6:00 p.m. the prognoses of the outcome of the Hamburg state elections were announced on television, initially nothing happened. The CDU’s poor performance provided no reason for applause, but there was not even a moan. Dead silence.
Only when the numbers indicated that the AfD might not move into the citizenship, some clapped in the foyer. The disaster of the own party had been expected. Compared to the already weak 15.9 percent who had been captured in Hamburg five years ago, the decline was again slightly higher than 11 percent, as of 6:00 p.m. It shouldn’t look any better than an hour later, when the first projection was available.
While top candidate Marcus Weinberg already admitted defeat on television, it was announced in Berlin that the usual statement by the Secretary General would be brought forward by a quarter of an hour. Paul Ziemiak was obviously in a hurry to deal with the ungrateful comment on a defeat and then brought extremely little time to the lectern. He spoke in less than two minutes, and there was no question about it. He began his performance with a congratulation to the social democratic “election winner” Peter Tschentscher. It was his “personal victory”.
“A bitter day for the CDU”
Perhaps that was a lesson from the state election in Thuringia in October last year, which was so important for the CDU. From Berlin, the state party had been repeatedly accused of failing to acknowledge and admit their defeat. The consequences shook the CDU, which also dominated the weekend of the Hamburg election. Ziemiak then spoke of a “bitter day” for the CDU, of a “historically bad” election result, on which there was “nothing to talk about”. There was still time for a short thank you to the top candidate Weinberg. And for the reference that the “events” in Thuringia did not allow the CDU in Hamburg to refer to their plans.
Before Ziemiak spoke up, Saarland Prime Minister Tobias Hans, the successor to the hapless CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, had said more in an interview than the Secretary General. The party in Hamburg must “startle” the result. The CDU – he clearly meant the federal party – gave a “picture of leadership”. Hans Kramp-Karrenbauer still agreed to be able to lead the CDU. But on Monday, when the Presidium and the Board meet, it has to be clarified how to proceed.
Who will become candidate for chancellor?
The fact that a close confidante Kramp-Karrenbauer repeatedly referred to the lack of leadership in a short interview is a sign of how insecure the CDU is. Hans demanded that the open personnel questions should be answered quickly. His statements indicated that above all he wanted a stable party leadership quickly. It also has to be decided who will become chancellor candidate. At the weekend, on the other hand, President of the Bundestag Wolfgang Schäuble, whose word still has weight in the CDU, said that issues should be dealt with in the course of the year. Personnel decisions could be answered later this year or early next year.
On Saturday, the CDU leadership in Berlin – but also in the party’s national associations – had rage over the decision of the Thuringian state association, the former prime minister in Erfurt, Bodo Ramelow from the Left Party, to rise again with a few CDU votes to help the head of government back. It was immediately clear that the Berlin leadership would never say yes to this. In addition to reading Election Sunday, the participants in the committee meetings on Monday will mainly talk about how things will go in Erfurt. And at the head of the federal party.