Silence CDA and VVD about coalition in Brabant helps the shouting of FVD in The Hague


The German Christian democracy has been in a leadership crisis since “Thuringia” which the Dutch CDA hopes to escape by looking away in Brabant. The party will not succeed. For “civilian right” in Europe the question arises: how and at what point does it differ from the extreme right? With or without AfD, with Fortuyn-Wilders-Baudet, with Le Pen?

CDU chairman Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer died when it turned out that she lacked the authority to prevent the Thuringia department from engaging the AfD. Chancellor Merkel intervened from abroad with ‘unacceptable’. For her, cooperation with the extreme right is a matter that you do not leave to a local or regional department.

In contrast, the CDA Summit in The Hague did coalition formation in Brabant between CDA, VVD and Forum for Democracy – with an undeniable leader volcanic has sympathies – off as a matter for the province. A cowardly and unsound argument: successful local or regional administrative experience gives flank parties extra legitimacy. Along that line the German Greens grew stature and the SP came into our picture as a national coalition partner. The silence of CDA and VVD about Brabant facilitates the shouting of FVD in The Hague.

Nowhere is the reluctance to cooperate with the extreme right as great as in the Federal Republic. Overdone? Dutch pragmatists, intending to show their neighbors the way with tolerance cords and twists and turns, discern a “moral cramp” in dealing with the past in Berlin. Yes, since the episode about A. Hitler, the Germans have known how nationalistic madness can bring your country to the ground militarily, politically and morally. So rather not again.

At the same time, this negative experience does not provide a basis for the questions that Germany and Europe now face. Saying ‘no’ won’t win you voters if they don’t hear which ‘yes’ you stand for. These are the last Merkel years the easiest of the German middle: directionlessness, procrastination, a vacuum of ideas. No wonder others jump in on it.

This situation makes the upcoming leadership debate within the CDU very exciting – and a bit more relevant for the Binnenhof than the Democratic primaries in the US. Obviously, dealing with the extreme right dominates the fight: routinely conservative Friedrich Merz wants to reclaim AfD voters, while centrist Armin Laschet advocates a narrow middle course à la Merkel. Minister Jens Spahn, third and youngest challenger, is closer to Merz.

Norbert Röttgen also appeared this week, who was discharged by Merkel as a minister after a regional election defeat, but who reinvented himself as an authoritative Bundestag member. He wants to save the CDU a grand fight, but does not yet explain how.

After the election of the party chairman, there will be another battle for the shared CDU / CSU party leader, to which – fifth name doing the rounds – CSU chief Markus Söder will also compete from Bavaria. The traditionally more conservative CSU course on themes such as identity and migration, which Chancellor Merkel left to the AfD from 2015, also makes Söder a serious candidate Chancellor.

With tactical positioning alone, things will go wrong for the civilian right. Voters want a story, a compass, and that requires their own position. The center-right is too often stuck between the temptations of the lower abdomen (“peaceful multiculturalism does not exist”) and the suspicion of all sense of community as a Nazi-headed. It must demand a space of thought between global citizenship and drawbridges, between EU superstate and lie talk about Hitler and Napoleon, between exalted emptiness and cynical flatness.

Luuk van Middelaar is a political philosopher and professor of European law (Leiden).

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