Mertz re elected as President of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany, next stop at the German Chancellor’s Office?

The Christian Democratic Union has once again become the most popular political party in Germany.

At last week’s National Congress of the Christian Democratic Union, Friedrich Merz was once again elected as the party’s chairman for a two-year term, which means that if he leads the Christian Democratic Union to win the election in 2025, he is likely to become the next Chancellor of Germany.

The Christian Democratic Union, previously led by former German Chancellor Merkel, has recently become the most popular political party in Germany, with support rates twice that of the ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD) led by German Chancellor Scholz. The latest poll showed that the support rate for the Christian Democratic Union was 30%, and the Social Democratic Party was 15%.

Mertz was re elected as the chairman of the Christian Democratic Union with 90% of the vote, and he still needs to win the hearts of the German people. His personal poll support rate has always been lower than that of the political party.

In an interview with the media, Meltz stated that this is not important. “The real news is that the support rate of opposition leaders far exceeds that of the current prime minister.”.

Can Melz lead the Christian Democratic Union to win the election again in 2025?

Visiting researcher Shi Shiwei from the Modern China Institute of the Free University of Berlin, Germany, told First Financial reporters that currently, Melz’s problem is that he lacks experience in local or federal governments in politics, and his experience in investment banking is relatively weak for serving as prime minister. “This is indeed a big problem, but if he is already close to 70 years old when he runs for office, although it has some impact, it is not particularly significant.”.

('Support rates for German party polls (source: statista website)',)(‘Support rates for German party polls (source: statista website)’,)

BlackRock executives return to politics

Born in 1955, Mertz worked as a judge, lawyer, and other professionals. He entered the European Parliament in 1989 and served as the chairman of the party caucus of the Federal Parliamentary Union in Germany from 2000 to 2002. He also served as the vice chairman of the Christian Democratic Union from 1998 to 2000 and from 2002 to 2004.

However, after Merkel was successfully elected as party chairman in 2000, Mertz’s upward trajectory within the party was disrupted. In 2002, Merkel defeated Mertz to win the position of chairman of the parliamentary caucus of the German Federal Parliamentary Union party. After frequent defeats, Mertz resigned from his party position and officially withdrew from politics in 2009.

Disappointed in politics, proud in shopping malls. After entering the business world, he served as the Chairman of BlackRock Germany from 2016 to 2020. In 2018, he returned to politics, and that year, Merkel announced that she would no longer serve as the chairman of the Christian Democratic Union.

However, Mertz had never won several party leaders who inherited Merkel’s centrist line before. Until the autumn of 2021, the CDU and its sisters party, the CSU, were defeated in the German general election. Raschette, then the chairman of the CDU, resigned because of the election defeat. The CDU needed a new chairman who cut off from Merkel’s line. Mertz, representing the conservative forces of the CDU, seized the opportunity and was elected with nearly 95% support at the CDU Party Congress in January 2022.

Although the support rate within the party is stable, Melz’s support in German public opinion is not as high. The 68 year old Mertz has long been described by the media as “impulsive,” “irritable,” and “thin skinned,” in stark contrast to his long-term rival Merkel in the Christian Democratic Union.

He has stated that foreign asylum seekers are receiving expensive dental treatment paid by German taxpayers, while ordinary Germans find it difficult to make appointments with dentists. He stated in a media interview that as a leader of the opposition party, there is reason to “innovate”. He stated that his comments will “force the government to take action.”.

Shi Shiwei told First Financial reporters that Melz’s statement at the time was condemned by many people, which led to him subsequently retracting his remarks.

Mertz attributed the negative views of Germans towards him to “years of personal criticism against me.”. He said that public opinion cannot change in just two and a half years. “But we are now on the right path and the situation is improving.” At the same time, he also stated that the days of making such comments are gone as he shifts towards a more politician like way of doing things.

“The closer we get to the federal parliamentary elections (fall 2025), the less voters see me as the leader of the opposition, and the more they see me as a potential prime minister,” he said. “Therefore, the kind of intervention in the past will become less and less.”.

Shi Shiwei said that the current problem facing the Christian Democratic Union is either to make better changes for Melz or to elect a better candidate, but Melz is over 70 years old and it is not clear how much change he can make.

“Anyway, the likelihood of the current coalition government surviving after the next election is probably low, and each of their polls is currently not feasible,” said Shi Shiwei.

According to recent polls, in this coalition government

The support rate of the Christian Democratic Union has rebounded

Currently, the Christian Democratic Union governs the largest and most populous states in Germany, and after 22 years of the Social Democratic Party’s rule, it regained control of the German capital Berlin last year.

Not only that, the Christian Democratic Union also reached a settlement with the once deadlocked Christian Social Union and its leader Markus S ö der. “Only by uniting can we win,” Meltz said.

However, there are still many potential obstacles to his path of governance, which largely depends on the state council elections in September this year in Saxony, Brandenburg, and Thuringia, where the Christian Democratic Union is trying to stop the German Select Party from advancing. Currently, polls show that far right parties may win in all three states in eastern Germany.

After the election, the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union will jointly decide on the candidate for Prime Minister in 2025. Melz is currently the biggest favorite. But if the CDU performs poorly in the east, its two competitors, namely Saud and North Rhine Westphalia Governor Hendrik W ü st, may have a chance. At present, both of them have much higher approval ratings in polls than Mertz.

Meanwhile, domestic opinion poll experts in Germany believe that given Schultz’s unpopular ruling coalition, the Christian Democratic Union’s poll numbers should have been much higher than 30%, and the main reason for the current situation is the lack of attractiveness of Mertz to women and young voters. Meanwhile, former supporters of Merkel and centrist voters have also developed resistance towards the party’s right-wing tendencies.

Shi Shiwei analyzed that the reasons why the German people do not like Mertz very much include the belief that he lacks political experience. Generally speaking, it is best to have experience as governor or federal government minister when running for the position of prime minister, but Melz has always held positions within the party.

In addition, due to his investment banking experience, “some people in Germany believe that his direction may be too biased towards the economy and not so balanced,” Shi Shiwei explained to reporters. However, the other potential prime minister candidates of the Christian Democratic Union are not well-known and are even more “risky.”.

Shi Shiwei stated that several potential candidates from the Christian Democratic Union are all older in age. However, former German Chancellor Adenauer was also in his seventies when he was elected.

In terms of relations with China, Mertz has also made an official statement. According to the website of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, on October 12, 2023 local time, Liu Jianchao, Minister of the External Liaison Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, met with Mertz, Chairman of the Christian Democratic Union and Chairman of the Alliance Party parliamentary caucus in Berlin. Mertz stated that the German side firmly supports trade liberalization and believes that healthy competition helps both sides to make progress together. He is willing to continue deepening economic and trade exchanges with China and encourage investment cooperation between enterprises of the two countries. Germany and China maintain good communication and coordination in multilateral affairs, and working together can make important contributions to consolidating global cooperation. Germany opposes the decoupling of the EU China relationship and will adhere to mutual benefit and win-win cooperation between Europe and China. The Alliance Party is willing to make positive contributions to promoting the development of Europe China relations.

Cui Hongjian, Director of the European Union and Regional Development Research Center at Beijing Foreign Studies University, told First Financial reporters that in Germany, there are differences in policies towards China among different factions within the government. The German Social Democratic Party tends to adopt a pragmatic and prudent policy towards China, while the Green Party and the Liberal Democratic Party tend to be more ideological and geopolitical.

“At the same time, there is also a certain degree of distortion in the German political and business circles. This is reflected in some departments of the German government not supporting Sino German economic and trade cooperation, and even setting restrictions. However, most German companies still have a positive outlook on the Chinese market, are willing to increase investment and expand cooperation with China.” He said that this situation is not only related to changes in the international situation, but also to changes in the content of China Europe relations, most importantly, to internal political changes in Germany. As long as Germany’s internal political changes remain fragmented, the contradictions or distortions in its policy towards China may persist for a long time.