In the coming week, the party convention of the CDU takes place in Leipzig. There should be an intense debate about the next Chancellor candidate of the Union parties - already because of a corresponding application of the Junge Union (JU). The junior organization of CDU and CSU calls for a ballot vote on the person who will draw at the head of the Union parties in the next federal election.
But the JU is not alone with this plan for the party congress on Friday and Saturday: In the 363-page application book, which is available to the SPIEGEL, there are five other applications that require a primary election or member survey to determine the candidate for chancellor.
Corresponding applications are made by the Landesverband Braunschweig and the district associations of Esslingen, Harz, Mittelsachsen and Vorpommern-Rügen.
For the request of the Junge Union and the five others from the base, the application committee recommends that they "treat and reject together".
Appropriate recommendations of the application committee, which consists of state and political leaders of the CDU and is led by Secretary General Paul Ziemiak, usually have great weight in the congress delegates. However, in view of the unrest within the CDU and the violent leadership debates, it is possible for the majority to vote against the requesting commission on this issue.
A primary election or membership survey on the next chancellor candidate is favored mainly by supporters of the CDU politician Friedrich Merz. According to the idea of his fans, Merz would be the candidate for the chancellor's decision. He was inferior to Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in the race for the CDU presidency last December at the party congress in Hamburg.
Merz comes as a simple delegate to the party congress
In addition to his position as vice-president of the CDU Economic Council, the former Union faction leader does not currently carry out any political functions; Merz is simply a delegate of his Hochsauerland district association at the party congress.
In several surveys on the question of who should lead the Union in the next federal election, the CDU politician landed in the past few weeks clearly ranked 1. Corresponding ambitions of Merz are known, he avoids clear public statements, however. In an interview with the "Handelsblatt" on Friday Merz dodged such questions again, but at the same time did not exclude himself from the race: "This question does not arise at present," he said only.
More at SPIEGEL +
If - as is customary among the Union parties - the party committees decide on the chancellor's candidature and only have this subsequently approved by a party congress, the chances of Merz would certainly be lower.
CDU boss Kramp-Karrenbauer favors this committee way, which according to the traditional logic itself would be the natural chancellor candidate. The North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister and CDU Vice Armin Laschet and Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn are considered possible candidates for the Union Chancellor.
New plan in the Merz camp
The Bavarian Prime Minister and CSU leader Markus Söder on the other hand probably has no corresponding ambitions, but he and his party has great weight in the question of who leads the Union in the next federal election. It is unclear how to achieve the necessary coordination with the CSU on all models that would allow the CDU base to participate more in this decision.
However, according to SPIEGEL information, there are also other plans in the Merz camp, such as the Union could decide on the next candidate for chancellor - and they would probably be the most likely to come to him.
Accordingly, the CDU could proceed analogous to the procedure last fall, when the presidential candidates first appeared at regional conferences and then put the vote of the congress, also here. Another argument in favor of this path is that a primary election or a membership poll contradicts traditional political understanding in the Union.
Merz himself has recently explained the idea in an interview with n-tv - and clearly opposed the original election plans. "Primary elections are not a suitable instrument for us in personnel decisions," said Merz. However, a better participation of the base was correct, therefore he considers "the procedure of the year 2018, when we have elected a new party leader on grassroots regional conferences with a final congress decision, also for the best".
This topic comes from the new SPIEGEL magazine - available at the kiosk from Saturday morning and every Friday at SPIEGEL + and in the digital magazine edition.
What is in the new SPIEGEL and what stories you find at SPIEGEL +, you will also learn in our free policy newsletter DIE LAGE, which appears six times a week - compact, analytical, opinionated, written by the political minds of the editorial.