The value union after Thuringia
Since the value union celebrated the Thuringian election, it has been under fire in the CDU. Some want to cooperate with the AfD.
Christian Sitter has been talking to his CDU association for days, typing messages and giving interviews. He has a mission: to prevent Bodo Ramelow from becoming Prime Minister in Thuringia with CDU votes. "That would split the CDU." Sitter will travel to Frankfurt am Main on Saturday. The board of the Union of Values, the pool of arch-conservative CDU politicians, meets there. Sitter is Thuringia's head of the Value Union.
When FDP man Thomas Kemmerich was elected prime minister in Thuringia a week ago with the votes of the CDU, FDP and AfD, Sitter experienced it as a great moment: "I was pleased that we got a bourgeois prime minister." Who the Choose AfD, leave it up to her.
The Federal Executive Committee of the Union of Values also welcomed the dismissal of Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow, who had previously been in office: Thuringia would once again be governed in a "liberal-democratic" manner. That this was only possible with AfD votes – not a word about that.
"An insult to CDU members"
For others, this choice was a dam break – also in the CDU, For months it has been suspiciously observed how the Union of Values wants to pull the party towards the AfD, although a party congress resolution precludes cooperation. Now Saarland's Prime Minister Tobias Hans calls the troop "an insult to CDU members", Elmar Brok from the Federal Executive Board speaks of a "cancer". The CDA workers' wing calls for a decision on incompatibility: Anyone who is a member of the Union of Values must no longer be a CDU.
Alexander Mitsch, head of the Value Union, donated to the AfD: in 2014 an amount of 20 euros, two years later 100. AfD founder Bernd Lucke had long since left the radicalizing party. At the time, he considered joining, but later founded the union of values instead.
"Why refuse dialogue when we have the better arguments?"
Two other members of the federal executive board probably had even closer contacts with the AfD: They were members. Klaus-Dieter Kurt was AfD district speaker in Tübingen until summer 2015. After the AfD dumped Lucke, he quit. Also the deputy federal chairman of the value union, Hinrich Rohbohm, who also for the Young freedom according to information from the time 2013 was a short time in the AfD.
Mitsch, in turn, complains of a "concerted action" against his club. The Thuringian CDU chief Sitter – triple father, lawyer, Catholic – finds the accusations "bad". "There is nothing radical in the union of values."
Is it really like that?
The Union of Values has long advocated a dialogue with the AfD: The CDU should delimit, but not exclude the far right. Some members want more.
Mitsch, finance director from Baden-Württemberg, founded the Value Union in 2017 with other right-wing conservative Union supporters. In their manifesto, they call for an end to “uncontrolled immigration” and to reject “ideological” climate policy. Migrants and Muslims would have to "assimilate". And: "We stand by our home."
A program that docks with the AfD. Today, the Union of Values has a good 4,000 members, which is not much in a party of 400,000. But the club is extremely present in the media with its shrill statements, it is not an official party organization.
Our author was already on skis as a child, today he feels one thing above all because of climate change: ski shame. For the taz on the weekend of February 15th he says goodbye to the slopes and drives one last time. In addition, who will win the citizens' elections in Hamburg? On a campaign tour with the candidates of the Greens and the SPD. And: waffles can also be kebabs, fruit kebabs. About the most healing judgment in the world. Always from Saturday at the kiosk, in eKiosk or right away Wochenendabo. And at Facebook and Twitter,
The union of values is an expression of the ordeal that the CDU is currently in. Should she stay on the middle course after Merkel – or move to the right again?
Hans-Georg Maassen, the ex-constitutional protection chief who drifted off to the right, is a member of the Union of Values - and her most prominent member. On election day in Thuringia, he told the taz that he was "very satisfied because the socialist government was voted out". Kemmerich would "make good liberal and conservative politics". And the AfD cooperation? He was silent about that.
As head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Maassen was still reluctant to deal with his authority's dealings with the AfD. When he joined the Union of Values in spring 2019, he discussed a possible collaboration with the AfD. Maassen later warned that parts of the AfD were too radical. But in Thuringia, he said that choosing a CDU man with the help of the AfD was legitimate.
In Thuringia, this softening has recently been practically carried out. When CDU head of state Mike Mohring wanted to hold talks with the left after the state election, the union of values called for this to be stopped immediately. Sitter wrote about the AfD: "Why refuse dialogue when we have the better arguments?" Working together with the AfD was no longer taboo: Why should one support a "relaxed" left-wing government, asked the union of values.
Sitter had previously published an appeal with 16 other Thuringian CDU people, including a member of the Landtag: It needed a discussion process with "all" parties in the Landtag. It could not be "that almost a quarter of the votes should be left out of these talks".
You can't coalition with an AfD under Björn Höcke, says Sitter, but you can talk about individual projects. Sitter is not alone in this position. Although not a member of the Union of Values among the Thuringian state parliamentarians, half a dozen sympathizers.
Even parts of the top staff of the Value Union are not afraid to contact the AfD. Her press spokesman, media lawyer Ralf Höcker, in whose law firm Maassen also works, represents the AfD and gave a lecture in May 2019 at an AfD event in the Bundestag. On Thursday Höcker suddenly left the union of values. His reasoning: threats.
Other federal executive boards have recently made relevant comments. One praised the course of the Austrian ÖVP in the coalition with the radical right-wing FPÖ in a membership letter as a model for the Union. A second etched on Twitter about a "democracy" in Germany, politicians called "Dreckspack". A third pleaded in November for an out of the Kenya coalition in Saxony-Anhalt and a minority government with “bourgeois conservative politics”. Majority procurer would also be here: the AfD.
Open advances come from there. AfD parliamentary group leader Alexander Gauland repeatedly invited values union supporters to the transition. They would no longer have a place in the “soft-washed mainstream CDU”.
Max Otte is one of those who is already building this bridge in the Union of Values. The CDU man from North Rhine-Westphalia, an economist and fund manager, announced before the recent Bundestag election that he wanted to vote for the AfD. In the meantime, Otte is also head of the board of trustees of the Afider-related Desiderius Erasmus Foundation. Already in 2018 he organized the “New Hambacher Fest”, at which Thilo Sarrazin and AfD chief Jörg Meuthen spoke. Before the European elections, Otte wrote the foreword for a booklet that Meuthen and other AfD candidates used to promote themselves.
Otte's assessment of the Thuringian election act is clear: "It was a heyday of democracy." It is also he who contradicts the leader of the Value Union, there is no striving for AfD in the club: "I know a number of high-ranking members who like to would work with the AfD. But they only dare to say that privately. "
Such statements are very attentive to the CDU leadership. But the chances of actually kicking members of the Value Union out of the party are very slim. "We recently saw with Sarrazin and the SPD how difficult it is to enforce party exclusions," says Düsseldorf party lawyer Sophie Schönberger.
According to the law, a significant violation of the principles of the party and also serious damage to them must be proven. This is possible, if at all, with individual members – for example with Mitsch because of his donation to the AfD. Collectively, however, this is not only difficult, but also undesirable in the sense of democracy, said the party rights activist. "This is a directional dispute in the Union, it has to be clarified politically."
In fact, even Max Otte is still a member of the CDU, as a party spokeswoman confirms. Although even the Union of Values advocated party exclusion after Otte published a relativizing tweet after the Lübcke murder. But Otte knows neither of an attempt to exclude him from the union of values, nor of concrete steps to exclude the party.
The top of the union of values felt whether the ongoing debate needed to publish a "clarification" this week: One declined to cooperate with the AfD "decidedly". Rather, it is a matter of winning back emigrants to the Union for the party.
A "clarification" that does not apply to everyone. In any case, Max Otte made another demand on the same day: He couldn't speak for the value union. "Purely personally, however, I believe that the CDU should explore the possibility of bourgeois coalitions with the AfD at all levels."