German conservatives elect new ‘right-wing’ leader

Friedrich Merz (above centre) after winning last week’s CDU leadership election

After their devastating defeat in September year, the German conservative party CDU has chosen a new ‘right-wing’ leader.

66-year-old Friedrich Merz was for years seen as the main right-wing rival to long-serving Chancellor Angela Merkel inside the Christian Democrats.

Merkel’s retirement from German politics (which she dominated as CDU leader since 2000 and Chancellor since 2005) came in two stages: stepping down as party leader three years ago, then as Chancellor after this year’s federal elections.

Friedrich Merz was twice defeated in elections for CDU leader: first by Merkel’s chosen successor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, then after this ‘mini-Merkel’ proved not up to the job, by another ‘centrist’ Armin Laschet in January this year.

It was Laschet who turned out to be a hopeless leader, taking the CDU to its worst ever federal election result.

Last week, at his third attempt, Merz easily won the CDU leadership with the backing of more than 62% of members in the first ballot, easily defeating centrist Norbert Röttgen and close Merkel ally Helge Braun.

Merz was a deputy to Angela Merkel at the start of her CDU leadership (before she became Chancellor), but soon became seen as a ‘right-wing’ rival and spent several years out of politics, preparing for an eventual bid to succeed her.

Yet H&D readers should look carefully at exactly what sort of ‘right-wing’ policies the new CDU leader stands for. Friedrich Merz is not our sort of ‘right-winger’. He is a throwback to the pro-business, small-state, market capitalism of the Thatcher-Reagan era.

A former corporate lawyer, Merz spent years outside politics during which he led the German operations of the investment firm BlackRock, regarded as the world’s largest ‘shadow bank’ and headed by New York billionaire Larry Fink. In 2018 Merz showed his true political colours, rejecting the Ludwig Erhard Prize (named after one of the CDU’s founding fathers) because he found the views of the Erhard Foundation’s chairman Roland Tichy to be too right-wing.

While he will probably win back some support from the more conservative, bürgerlich wing of the AfD (Alternative for Germany), radical nationalists inside and outside AfD should be able to establish clear water between ourselves and the likes of Friedrich Merz.

The same applies here in the UK, where during 2022 we can define a distinct nationalist ideology, very different from the neo-Thatcherism and libertarianism on offer from Boris Johnson’s likely successors in the Conservative Party, or from increasingly irrelevant civic nationalists in parties such as Reform UK and the moribund UKIP.

During 2022 H&D will play its part in defining racial nationalism with a social (even ‘socialist’) dimension, relevant to our times and to voters who might have backed Brexit, UKIP, and even Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in the false hope that these causes and parties would rescue our people and our nation from cultural decay and economic stagnation.

Thanks for reading, and we hope you will stay with us in the New Year.

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