2021 Christian Democratic Union of Germany leadership election

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2021 Christian Democratic Union leadership election
← 2018 15–16 January 2021

1,001 delegates in the 33rd CDU Federal Congress
501 delegates votes needed to win
  Grundsteinlegung MiQua-7004 (cropped).jpg Friedrich Merz 2019 (cropped).jpg Hart aber fair - 2019-09-30-9427 (cropped).jpg
Candidate Armin Laschet Friedrich Merz Norbert Röttgen
First round 380, 38.42% 385, 38.93% 224, 22.65%
Runoff 521, 52.79% 466, 47.21% Eliminated

Leader before election

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer

Elected Leader

Armin Laschet

The 2021 Christian Democratic Union leadership election took place on 15–16 January 2021 at the party's 33rd Congress to elect the leader of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany.

The election was triggered by the resignation of leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in February 2020. Kramp-Karrenbauer was elected in November 2018 and, while initially popular, suffered a series of difficulties beginning shortly before the 2019 European elections. Her resignation was triggered by her failure to enforce discipline in the CDU's Thuringia branch during the 2020 Thuringian government crisis.[1][2] The election to replace her was originally scheduled to take place on 25 April 2020 in Berlin, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On 14 September 2020, Secretary-General Paul Ziemiak announced that the Congress would, due to the pandemic, be held as a one-day meeting on 4 December 2020.[3] However, in late October, the election was further postponed due to a surge in COVID cases nationally.[4] A virtual Congress was held on 15–16 January, with the election of the new leader held on 16 January. The victor will be formally confirmed in a postal vote on 22 January, though this is considered a formality.[5]

Three candidates stood in the election. Norbert Röttgen, chair of the Bundestag foreign affairs committee, announced his candidacy on 18 February.[6] This was followed on 25 February by a joint announcement from Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia Armin Laschet, who declared his intention to stand for the leadership, with the endorsement of federal Health Minister Jens Spahn.[7] A few hours later, former leader of the CDU/CSU Bundestag group Friedrich Merz announced his own candidacy.[8]

Merz won a plurality of votes in the first round of the election, securing 385 (39%) to Laschet's 380 (38%). Röttgen placed third with 224 (23%). Laschet was elected in the runoff, winning 521 (52.8%) of delegate votes, while Merz won 466 (47.2%).[9]

Candidates[edit source | edit]


Declared[edit source | edit]

Portrait Name Offices held State Announcement date
Grundsteinlegung MiQua-7004 (cropped).jpg Armin Laschet
(born 1961)
Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia (2017–present)
Deputy Leader of the Christian Democratic Union (2012–present)
Leader of the Christian Democratic Union in North Rhine-Westphalia (2012–present)
Template:Country data North Rhine-Westphalia 25 February 2020
Friedrich Merz 2019 (cropped).jpg Friedrich Merz
(born 1955)
Leader of CDU/CSU Group in the Bundestag and Leader of the Opposition (2000–2002)
Member of the Bundestag (1994–2009)
Member of the European Parliament (1989–1994)
Template:Country data North Rhine-Westphalia 25 February 2020
Hart aber fair - 2019-09-30-9427 (cropped).jpg Norbert Röttgen
(born 1965)
Chair of the Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee (2014–present)
Member of the Bundestag (1994–present)
Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (2009–2012)
Deputy Leader of the Christian Democratic Union (2010–2012)
Leader of the Christian Democratic Union in North Rhine-Westphalia (2010–2012)
Template:Country data North Rhine-Westphalia 18 February 2020

Armin Laschet[edit source | edit]

The premier of the populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia since 2017, Armin Laschet chose Jens Spahn, minister of health and candidate in the previous CDU leadership election, as his deputy. Characterizing his campaign as a bridge between the centrist and right-wing factions, Laschet sees his leadership with Spahn as able to solve the crisis in the CDU, which has been rocked by the fallout from regional CDU lawmakers voting with the far-right to elect the premier of the eastern state of Thuringia and which suffered one of its worst-ever electoral results in Hamburg.[10]

A CDU member since 1979, Laschet has held a variety of positions in local, state, federal and European politics, including stints as an MEP and regional minister overseeing the integration of migrants. Seen as a moderate who is close to Angela Merkel's vision of the CDU, Laschet is a devout Catholic who opposed same-sex marriage and has advocated banning headscarves for girls up to age 14. Despite those views, Laschet tapped Spahn, a married gay man, to be his deputy and is seen as a champion of migrant rights. Laschet is widely considered to be good-natured and adept at building consensus while critics say he is too much like Merkel and not conservative enough to win back voters the CDU lost to the far-right.[11] Some also accused him of having dangerous views in foreign affairs, describing him as being overly friendly towards Russia and China.[12]

Friedrich Merz[edit source | edit]

Friedrich Merz is a returning rival of Merkel hoping to bring voters lost by Merkel's centrism back to the CDU. After losing leadership of the party in the early 2000s, Merz lost his position as leader of the CDU/CSU Group in the Bundestag and left the Bundestag in 2009 for a career in the private sector. Since his first political retirement, Merz has worked for insurer Axa, chemical giant BASF and investment group BlackRock. When Merkel announced her resignation from the CDU leadership, Merz announced he would challenge Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Merkel's preferred successor, for the position as leader in 2017.[13] He was unsuccessful in winning leadership in 2018, placing second behind Kramp-Karrenbauer.

A law and order, free-market conservative, Merz promises to win back disgruntled CDU voters who have defected to the far-right Alternative for Germany. Both allies and rivals attest to Merz's sharp mind and detailed knowledge of complicated policy issues. However, critics say that he is too right-wing for the party, having opposed a 1997 reform to criminalize rape within marriage and advocating the so-called Leitkultur, which is the promotion of German culture, mores and traditions among immigrants.

Norbert Röttgen[edit source | edit]

The chair of the Bundestag's foreign affairs committee and served as federal environment minister between 2009 and 2012, Norbert Röttgen joined the CDU in high school and built a career in the party, becoming a member of parliament in 1994.[14] Röttgen fell out of favour with Merkel in 2012 after choosing to run for the premiership in North-Rhine Westphalia and achieving one of the worst results in his party's history. He was sacked from cabinet days after the result.[15]

A centrist, Röttgen is well-liked by older, establishment CDU insiders. He advocates the core values of the old German republic, namely transatlanticism, the Franco–German partnership and a strong anchoring of Germany in the European Union. Seen as solidly grounded in all the major political issues of the day, critics have pointed to his loss in North Rhine-Westphalia and that he "lacks the common touch" to steer the party in the current state of German politics.[11]

Over the course of the leadership election, support among CDU MPs has been rising for Röttgen. Andreas Nick and Kai Whittaker publicly endorsed him in November 2020.[16]

Opinion polls[edit source | edit]

Fieldwork date Pollster Sample size Grundsteinlegung MiQua-7004 (cropped).jpg
Friedrich Merz 2019 (cropped).jpg
Hart aber fair - 2019-09-30-9427 (cropped).jpg
Others/None Undecided/
Don't know
9–11 January 2021 Civey 5,001 voters 13% 30% 32% 25%
CDU/CSU voters 11% 41% 31% 17%
4–5 January 2021 Infratest Dimap 1,020 voters 18% 27% 22% 19%
CDU/CSU voters 25% 29% 25%
18–20 December 2020 Civey 7,514 voters 11,8% 28,8% 31,7% 27,7%
CDU/CSU voters 11,1% 38,0% 28,9% 22,0%
27–30 November 2020 Civey 5,003 voters 12,7% 33,4% 27,4% 26,5%
CDU/CSU voters 13% 43% 23% 22%
24–25 November 2020 Infratest Dimap 1,047 voters 15% 27% 16% 21%
CDU voters 15% 39% 22% 15%
30 October–2 November 2020 Civey 5,003 voters 8,1% 25,9% 10,6% Spahn 23,3%
Others 21,0%
CDU/CSU voters 8,1% 33,4% 9,1% Spahn 27,4%
Others 15,9%
20–22 October 2020 Forsa 1,007 CDU members 24% 45% 13%
23–27 September 2020 Civey 5,018 voters 9,7% 25,5% 11,4% Spahn 17,7%
Others 23,6%
CDU/CSU voters 8,7% 35,6% 10,0% Spahn 21,2%
Others 18,3%
3–5 March 2020 Forschungsgruppe Wahlen 1,276 voters 24% 27% 11% 30%
CDU/CSU voters 27% 40% 10% 19%
Delegate estimations
Publication date Publisher Grundsteinlegung MiQua-7004 (cropped).jpg
Friedrich Merz 2019 (cropped).jpg
Hart aber fair - 2019-09-30-9427 (cropped).jpg
14 January 2021 The European 310 410 180 100
11 January 2021 The European 310 395 125 170
8 January 2021 The European 290 395 115 200
3 January 2021 The European 260 380 60 300

Results[edit source | edit]

Candidate First round Second round
Votes % Votes %
style="background:Template:Christian Democratic Union (Germany)/meta/color;"| Armin Laschet 380 38.42 521 52.57
style="background:Template:Christian Democratic Union (Germany)/meta/color;"| Friedrich Merz 385 38.93 466 47.02
style="background:Template:Christian Democratic Union (Germany)/meta/color;"| Norbert Röttgen 224 22.65
Abstentions 3 0.30 4 0.40
Total valid votes  992 100.0  991 100.0
Invalid/blank votes
Total votes 992 100.0  991 100.0
Source: [17]
First Round
Second Round

Notes[edit source | edit]

References[edit source | edit]

  1. "Sonntagsfrage – Forsa (Wahlumfragen zur Bundestagswahl)". Wahlrecht.de (in German). Retrieved 2018-10-30.
  2. "Kramp-Karrenbauer: Entscheidung ist seit geraumer Zeit in mir gereift". handelsblatt.de. 2020-02-10. Retrieved 2020-02-11.
  3. "CDU wählt neuen Vorsitzenden auf eintägigem Parteitag am 4. Dezember". Reuters Africa (in German). 14 September 2020. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  4. Wahl eines neuen Vorsitzenden: CDU verschiebt Parteitag - Merz kritisiert Entscheidung, sueddeutsche.de, 26 October 2020
  5. News, Bloomberg (2020-12-14). "Merkel's Party Opts for Online Convention to Elect New Leader". www.bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2020-12-14.
  6. "Norbert Röttgen kandidiert für den CDU-Vorsitz - DER SPIEGEL - Politik". www.spiegel.de (in German). Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  7. "The Double-Act That Wants to Take Over Germany". www.bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2020-07-25.
  8. Berlin, Berliner Morgenpost- (2020-02-25). "Friedrich Merz kandidiert - und schießt gegen Laschet und Spahn". www.morgenpost.de (in German). Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  9. Lotus, Jean (2020-01-16). "Armin Laschet, Merkel ally, elected head of Germany's CDU party". United Press International.
  10. Posaner, Joshua (2020-02-25). "Laschet and Merz launch bids to lead German conservatives". POLITICO. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Karnitschnig, Matthew (2020-02-25). "The wannabe Merkels". POLITICO. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  12. Barkin, Noah. "You May Miss Merkel More Than You Think". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  13. Karnitschnig, Matthew (2018-11-04). "Old German rival returns to haunt Angela Merkel". POLITICO. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  14. Posaner, Joshua (2020-02-18). "Bundestag's foreign affairs chief joins CDU leadership race". POLITICO. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  15. Oltermann, Philip (2020-02-18). "Germany: senior CDU figure announces surprise leadership candidacy". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  16. "Röttgen wirbt um frühere Merz-Anhänger und bekommt Unterstützung | hasepost.de" (in German). November 7, 2020.
  17. "Live blog: German CDU picks new leader". POLITICO. 2021-01-15. Retrieved 2021-01-16.

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