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Conservative wing of Merkel’s bloc says party leadership must resign after ‘debacle’ in Germany’s general election

“The board of directors and party leaders of the CDU and CDU must draw the conclusions from the election debacle in the federal elections on September 26, 2021 and resign immediately,” the party’s informal conservative wing, the Values Union, said in a statement.

The group argued that Armin Laschet, the CDU’s leader and candidate to replace Merkel as chancellor, and Markus Soeder, the head of the CDU’s sister party in Bavaria, the Christian Social Union (CSU), bear personal responsibility for the loss and must step down as well. The Values Union called for the new leadership of the CDU to be elected directly by all party members, rather than through a system of delegates.

The Values Union was formed in 2017, mostly by longtime members of the CDU and CSU, according to their website.

In Sunday’s vote, the CDU showed its worst result since the first democratic vote in the postwar era in 1949. The CDU/CSU bloc came in second with 24.1%, trailing behind their main rivals the Social Democrats (SPD), which received 25.7%. According to official projections, Merkel’s party lost 49 seats, while the SPD gained 53, becoming the biggest party in parliament.

The Values Union argued that the CDU took “a fatal turn to the left” during Merkel’s long tenure as chancellor. “For the first time in a long while, the [party] is clearly not the strongest force and has fallen to a second place.”

Values Union chairman Max Otte said the CDU and CSU must return to their conservative roots. “A large part of the [party’s] base shares conservative values. The task of the CDU and CSU is to represent these values on political stage. Instead of marginalizing such members, they must be put back where they belong – in the center of the party.”

The CDU has been bleeding support over the past several years, as Merkel oversaw the influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa, and most recently the economic downturn due to the harsh lockdowns amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Before the general election, the CDU/CSU bloc and SPD ruled together in a coalition government. Germany’s leading parties will now have another round of negotiations to determine whether they want to continue working with each other or form a government with other parties.

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