Friedrich Merz, one of the three candidates running for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) chairmanship, has forewarned his fellow party members that, under his leadership, those who work alongside the Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) will be expelled from the party.
“I tell everyone who is concerned, in the north and in the south, in the west and in the east, that we have ruled out this cooperation,” Merz said, adding that any form of collaboration or cooperation between members of his party and the AfD would lead to exclusion procedures, Berlin-based newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reports.
“Each time this boundary is exceeded, there will be immediate consequences,” he continued, noting that the same policy would apply to the Left Party under his leadership.
Merz, who’s been a member of the CDU since 1972, has been a reliable critic of the populist AfD since the party’s founding in 2013. In mid-November, the parliamentary group leader emphasized that he would oppose “pressure to the right” within his party, claiming that the CDU has “nothing to do with [the AfD], nothing in common.”
“There will be no shift to the right in the Union with me now. There will be no axis shift. There should be a clear profile again,” he stressed. “The Union cannot and will not be guided by what the AfD says or does.”
Earlier this week, during a panel discussion with his competitors for the CDU chairmanship, Merz argued that the party should work to attract more people with migrant backgrounds, insisting that the CDU must become a “modern” party.
The election for the party’s chairmanship, which is set to take place between the 4th and 16th of December, was triggered by the resignation of the CDU’s former leader Armin Laschet, who stepped down from his position in October on the heels of the party’s historic defeat in this year’s federal elections.
Despite the party’s dismal showing in September’s election, Merz’s statements are a clear indication that the CDU has no plans to abate its steady drift to the left.