The CDU faces further competition from the right. The ultra-conservative group Values Union decided to found a party at the weekend. At its federal meeting in Erfurt, its members gave chairman Hans-Georg Maaßen a mandate by a large majority to “initiate the founding of a conservative-liberal party under this name,” said the Union of Values. The party will be founded so quickly that participation in the state elections in Thuringia, Saxony and Brandenburg in September will be guaranteed.
In his keynote speech to members traveling across the country, Maaßen, who was once President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, referred to the CDU’s “continued slide into the left-green camp.” This continued under the current boss Friedrich Merz. Maaßen therefore declared: “We are Union 1.0”.
The CDU emphasized that membership in both parties was excluded. “The so-called Union of Values has decided to found its own party. Dual membership in the so-called Union of Values as a party and the CDU is excluded by our party statutes. CDU members who continue to belong to the so-called Union of Values must leave the CDU or face an exclusion procedure to be expected,” explained a CDU spokesman when asked by the South German newspaper. CDU leader Friedrich Merz had already announced a change: membership in the Union of Values as an association should in future be incompatible with membership in the CDU, it was said.
The Values Union is a private association and, according to its own statements, the “conservative grassroots movement within the CDU/CSU”. It therefore has around 4,000 members. According to the group, 85 percent of them belong to the CDU/CSU and their associations. The Union of Values was founded in 2017. The association brought together conservatives who, in their own words, took exception to the “clearly recognizable left-wing course” of then-Chancellor Angela Merkel in migration, energy and climate policy. The members of the CDU were always proud of uniting three currents in their party: the Christian-social, the liberal and the conservative. From the point of view of the Union of Values, Merkel has allowed the party’s conservative roots to wither away.
Possible collaboration with the AfD
The Union of Values as a party should therefore be clearly to the right of the CDU/CSU. It should be a party “that opposes every form of neo-socialism and totalitarianism and firewalls and will bring the country forward again,” explained Maaßen on Platform X. This would make cooperation with the AfD, which is partly right-wing extremist, possible. The CDU, on the other hand, has ruled out cooperation with the AfD. This definition is also known as a firewall and is likely to be put to a tough test this year: According to the polls, the AfD is clearly ahead in the state elections in Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia and, if it wins, is likely to recruit the CDU as a coalition partner.
With the Union of Values, the second new party emerged within a short space of time. Previously, the former left-wing politician Sahra Wagenknecht had broken away from her party and founded the Alliance Sahra Wagenknecht (BSW). The BSW is on the left when it comes to social policy, but is critical of the federal government’s migration policy and could therefore also be of interest to voters who vote for the AfD primarily because of migration policy. With the new union of values as a party, the German party landscape would become even more fragmented than before.
The CDU member of the Bundestag, Paul Ziemiak, was calm about the union of values as he sought to found a party; He therefore did not see a danger for the CDU and CSU. “Such populist movements are competition for other populist movements and parties and not for a centrist party,” said the general secretary of the North Rhine-Westphalia CDU to the German Press Agency at the weekend. “The Union of Values was never part of the CDU. It is not. It will not be in the future either.”
The CDU initially tried to integrate the Union of Values. However, the club became more and more radicalized over time. Liberal CDU members increasingly called for a clear demarcation. The long-time CDU MEP Elmar Brok spoke of a “cancer” that should not be allowed to creep into the party. Nevertheless, Maaßen ran for the CDU in Thuringia in the 2021 federal election, but lost to his social democratic competitor in the fight for a direct mandate. Maaßen himself has become increasingly radicalized. For example, he denounced “eliminatory racism against whites.” This rhetoric has long been reminiscent of that of the AfD. In the right-wing political spectrum, things are now getting even tighter with his new party.