Economy & Politics

Exclusive election of the new CDU boss divides decision-makers

The three candidates for the CDU chairmanship: Norbert Röttgen, Armin Laschet and Friedrich Merz (from left to right)
The three candidates for the CDU chairmanship: Norbert Röttgen, Armin Laschet and Friedrich Merz (from left to right)dpa

A few days before the planned election of a new CDU chairman at the party conference this weekend, top German managers and top politicians are divided over the right candidate. This is the result of the latest elite panel of the Allensbach Institute for Demoscopy on behalf of and “FAZ”. Although the former leader of the CDU / CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Friedrich Merz, got the highest approval ratings from all candidates in the party competition – with just 34 percent, he too remains far from being a clear favorite for the CDU chairmanship. Even among its most important clientele, the top managers and entrepreneurs questioned in the survey, Merz only achieved an approval rate of a good 41 percent.

In second place behind Merz in the overall standings is a man who is not even eligible for election at the party conference this weekend: Health Minister Jens Spahn. He could count on almost 19 percent of the votes among the decision-makers – closely followed by NRW Prime Minister Armin Laschet with almost 16 percent and the CDU foreign politician Norbert Röttgen with almost 15 percent.

The elite panel from and “FAZ” is not a representative survey for the general population, but the survey is important because it reflects the mood in a target group that is particularly relevant for the CDU and CSU: the top decision-makers in Germany. For the survey from the beginning of December to the beginning of January, the Allensbach Institute interviewed a total of 517 managers, board members and entrepreneurs as well as top politicians such as ministers and prime ministers and the heads of important federal and state authorities. The traditional survey is thus the most prominent survey in Europe.

If Merz is the business favorite, which is hardly surprising, Laschet got the best value among the top politicians surveyed with a good 35 percent. Here, of all people, Spahn and Merz do poorly with 7 and 17 percent approval respectively. In the economy, however, Laschet and Röttgen clearly fail, while Spahn still has almost 20 percent approval.

Against Scholz, Söder and Laschet would have an advantage

In direct comparison with the SPD chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz, however, all three possible CDU bosses have to admit defeat to a fourth candidate: Markus Söder. The Bavarian Prime Minister and CSU boss would come in first place with almost 71 percent approval compared to Scholz (25 percent), Friedrich Merz would come in this evaluation to just under 62 percent (Scholz: 35 percent) – both, however, only supported by very high approval ratings in business. However, if you only look at the group of top politicians, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz would win over the two candidates. Armin Laschet alone could hope for a majority against Scholz in both groups of the elite panel, managers and top politicians – an interesting clue for the question of which union candidate in the federal election in September should really appeal to voters across all camps.

The verdict of the top decision-makers surveyed about the benefits of the entire month-long personnel competition is clear: devastating. After all, 64 percent of those questioned stated in the survey that the long dispute over the party leadership had weakened the CDU. However, only 15 percent said the selection process had strengthened the party.

The only clear favorite: black and green from autumn

The verdict of Germany’s top decision-makers is also clear on a second question: A black-green government alliance starting next autumn is not only the most likely coalition, it is also the clear preferred alliance. Overall, 67 percent of those questioned answered that they would like a coalition of the CDU, CSU and the Greens after the next federal election; in the group of managers and entrepreneurs, black-green even got 71 percent approval. When asked which government coalition they consider most likely after the federal election, almost 81 percent answered: black-green. Government alliances with SPD participation, including a new grand coalition, played no significant role in the survey.

After all, just under 36 percent of those surveyed named black-green as the preferred coalition, and a good 39 percent in business. For comparison: an alliance of the Union and FDP, long the favorite among top decision-makers, especially from the business world, only comes up with a value of 25 percent when asked about the desired coalition (business 28 percent). Even a Jamaica coalition of the CDU, CSU, FDP and the Greens – most recently one of the FDP’s hopes for a government option from autumn – is not very well received by decision-makers with just 14 percent approval.

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