Commentary on the cdu leadership dispute: bad timing, but consistent

The ex-secretary general of the Berlin CDU, Kai Wegner, wants to become the new state chairman one week before the European elections.

They liked each other then – now Kai Wegner wants to replace Monika Grutters as CDU leader. Photo: dpa

The timing could hardly be worse: Wanting to replace state leader Monika Grutters at the party conference eight days before the European elections on May 26 doesn’t exactly increase the Berlin CDU’s chances of winning a seat in the European Parliament. But if Kai Wegner really wants to make a difference with a view to the 2021 election for the House of Representatives, which is more important from Berlin’s point of view, then he really must claim the party chairmanship now. The next board election is not until the election year itself, too late for corrections.

According to information from the taz, Kai Wegner, a member of the Bundestag from Spandau and former secretary general, wants to replace Monika Grutters as head of the Berlin CDU. Wegner did not want to deny to the taz a candidacy at the party congress on May 18. Grutters told the taz that she "of course intends to run". If there are several candidates, there should be a decision by the members. Candidacies are not known to her so far. "But if someone like, for example, Kai Wegner would want to run, I would say: okay, then let the members decide." (sta)

Wegner did not confirm his ambitions on Tuesday. But he also did not want to deny them. And his not wanting to comment sounded more like a formality on the phone and was also not surprising. For a long time, there has been a festering in Berlin’s CDU: In general, Grutters is not present enough for many people, and in the fall there was also the dispute over the dismissal of Hubertus Knabe, the head of the Hohenschonhausen memorial. Time and again, it is said that Grutters, who as Minister of State for Culture was partly responsible for this, allowed herself to be lobbied by the left-wing Senator for Culture, Lederer.

To see Wegner’s candidacy merely as revenge for his replacement as secretary general when Grutters took office at the end of 2016 would be too simplistic. At the time, Grutters had argued that she needed a state politician as secretary general and therefore brought Stefan Evers into office as his successor. But that wasn’t really convincing: Wegner is presumably the best-connected of Berlin’s top CDU officials and, as a member of the Bundestag, comments on Senate policy more than many other federal politicians.

There will hardly be a duel at the party conference: Grutters will not want to be dismissed by a party that misses the real fire in her. And Wegner, who is already popular with the grassroots as secretary general and knows the mood of the CDU inside out, would not run for the presidency if he didn’t have enough support behind him.