CDU leader Friedrich Merz has once again ruled out any cooperation between his party and the right-wing populists from the AfD at all political levels. “We have a clear decision-making position in the CDU. We don’t work with the AfD. Not in the parliaments, not in the local councils,” said Merz today in the ARD “summer interview” in Berlin. When asked by the capital city studio manager Tina Hassel whether this also applies to the municipal level, he added: “A no is a no. (…) Also at the municipal level.”

Much criticism of his ZDF interview in July

The word cooperation was not mentioned at all in a ZDF interview in July, said Merz. “I have referred to the election results and there is nothing to add.” Merz’s statements on how to deal with the AfD in municipalities were often interpreted as softening the demarcation between the CDU and right-wing populists. Merz had vehemently contradicted that at the time. There was also a lot of criticism from our own ranks.

In the ZDF interview, Merz explained that if the AfD elected a district administrator in Thuringia and a mayor in Saxony-Anhalt, then these were democratic elections. “We have to accept that. And of course the local parliaments have to look for ways to shape the city or the district together.”

Merz: “It’s a challenge for all parties”

In the ARD, Merz now emphasized that this comment did not refer to the CDU alone. This is “a challenge for all parties. That includes the SPD, the Greens, the FDP, if there are free voters, they too. We have to look for ways and we will find these ways too.” There are “majorities in all parliaments in Germany, in all, including all local councils, without the AfD”. The Union faction leader added: “A right thing does not become wrong because it is said by the wrong people. We make our policy according to our convictions and that says everything.”

At the same time, Merz was again opposed to an AfD ban. “Party bans have seldom had any effect in the Federal Republic of Germany. The people who are on the wrong political path are still there. I think very little of that.” The AfD is classified and observed by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution as a suspected right-wing extremist.