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“Being afraid of the voters – that has to end”


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“Being afraid of the voters – that has to end”

WORLD: Mr. Linnemann, at the CDU party conference starting on Friday, the content of the party’s course is to be redefined. What does the CDU stand for in the future, what distinguishes it from the traffic light parties?

Carsten Linnemann: We start with the individual, not the collective. We do not dictate how science and research should work or which technologies they should advance.

And we start from the principle that man is meant for freedom. However, that he must take responsibility for his actions and responsibility for others. That everyone must first spit on their hands and take their lives into their own hands. And only those who fail to do so should receive government support.

WORLD: The CDU is currently demanding state support for the citizens to an extent that would go well with the traffic light coalition. Does your party want to become the second SPD in the crisis?

Linnemann: Definitely not. We would set completely different accents. The current federal government dumps billions across the country and forgets the middle class. The SPD once again only cares about the big players in the economy. It ignores the small ones and thus destroys medium-sized companies – across the board, but above all in industry. And once they have disappeared, as we know from abroad, nothing grows back. way is gone

WORLD: What would you do for medium-sized companies?

Linnemann: I would rely on Ludwig Erhard pure. Erhard was always concerned with providing incentives. In this sense, in the current situation, households and medium-sized companies that behave in an energy-efficient manner should receive a credit from the state. So if you consume less in the coming winter than in the past, you will receive a bonus.

WORLD: The idea exists: in the SPD.

Linnemann: That may be the case, but it's just the idea of ​​a single member of parliament.

WORLD: Haven't you forgotten the middle class - people, some of whom earn above average, but who will also suffer massively from the sharp rise in energy prices and make a significant contribution to state income through performance and consumer behavior?

Linnemann: For those who actually find themselves in an untenable situation, there would be money in the crisis if the money weren't distributed like the traffic light coalition with a watering can, but if the billions were used in a targeted manner. For example, I would not have distributed a flat rate of 300 euros to all pensioners.

WORLD: You would have accepted the indignation of the pensioners and the painful receipt at the next election without complaint?

Linnemann: That's exactly the mistake we've been making for years: being afraid of the voters. That has to end. In the case of retirees, you have to have the courage to say that people with multiple portfolios and properties don't need help and that we only care about those who really need help. I know from many conversations that most retirees see it the same way themselves.

WORLD: So you are now interpreting Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens), who recently said with regard to support for Ukraine: Do you act according to your convictions, "no matter what my German voters think"?

Linnemann: I'll put it this way: it's important not to think in terms of party politics, especially during the crisis. Despite all the criticism of the CDU, we cannot be accused of that. The Union has always had a clear compass when it comes to the really big issues - whether it's German unity or the NATO dual-track decision-making process. And even now we must do what we think is right and what is necessary, without squinting at polls.

I am convinced that we are headed for a landslide recession that will bury companies and jobs en masse. This landslide recession will be far beyond what we have seen so far during the coronavirus pandemic. We will find ourselves in a dramatic situation simply because we will no longer be able to contain inflation in the foreseeable future. We will see that the euro crisis comes back, the first hedge funds are betting on Italy's ruin.

That's why it's important that we budget sparingly and with the greatest discipline, that we don't hand out money to anyone who is now calling for the state. I'm sure people would understand if you had the courage to explain it to them. But the traffic light coalition lacks this courage.

WORLD: In the economic-political part of the agenda, which the executive board of the Union faction passed a few days ago, combating inflation is practically not addressed. Doesn't look like the faction is following you.

Linnemann: That is one of the papers in preparation for the party congress. There we will discuss and decide on further measures. But one thing is clear: the flood of money that the European Central Bank is causing and which is fueling inflation must be ended.

WORLD: A central bank should be able to conduct its monetary policy independently of political instructions.

Linnemann: I can't hear that anymore. The reality is different. With its monetary policy, the ECB operates illegal state financing. This can no longer be accepted.

WORLD: CDU leader Friedrich Merz would go further, he advocates state intervention in the energy market in view of the impending shortage and rising prices. Is your party gradually saying goodbye to the market economy and Ludwig Erhard?

Linnemann: The state intervenes when a market no longer works. Then politics must ensure that this is cured and that there is competition again. As far as the energy market is concerned, we are currently in an extreme situation with skyrocketing prices. So Friedrich Merz is right when he considers targeted intervention by the state to be necessary in such a situation.

WORLD: If you have repeatedly quoted Ludwig Erhard, why not criticize the traffic light coalition for using the crisis to expand regulation and redistribution?

Linnemann: We do that. In fact, the federal government is benefiting from the additional tax revenue that is flushed into its coffers as a result of the high inflation. The money is first taken out of people's pockets, only to then be redistributed in a complicated manner.

WORLD: Doesn't it worry you that you sometimes hear voices from the Union saying that the debt brake shouldn't necessarily be maintained?

Linnemann: Anyone who sacrifices the debt brake now does not have all the cups in the closet. It is more important now than ever. Because the debt brake is forcing us politicians to use the citizens' money sensibly. If we don't comply with the debt brake, we will continue to fuel inflation.

WORLD: But the Union would also support the citizens with many billions. Where do they come from if you can only take on new debt up to a certain level?

Linnemann: The federal government's income situation is good, and that's the difference between the Union and the traffic light parties that you asked about: We don't always look at how the tax burden can be increased even further. We look at where the state is taking money that it is basically not entitled to: as in the case of cold progression. It should have been dismantled long ago.

WORLD: This should now happen on the initiative of the FDP. The Union would have had many government years to tackle this.

Linnemann: I did that as chairman of the Mittelstandsunion. At the 2014 party congress, we pushed through an anchoring to mitigate cold progression.

But yes: I am now annoyed that I did not go further and fought for an automatism. That was a mistake. I am currently writing a book that will be published in a few weeks, in which I will go into this.

WORLD: You mainly write the new basic program of the CDU. Which of these will you present at the party congress?

Linnemann: It's a long process. Our basic program will not be ready until next year. At the party congress, I will present a charter of core values, which essentially contains the points I made at the beginning. It will be the first time that we define the CDU as a bourgeois party.

WORLD: What does "bourgeois" mean to you?

Linnemann: That you see yourself as part of a system in which there are rights and obligations. That one lives self-determined, but still has to take responsibility for others. That people are not classified and evaluated according to external characteristics, but recognized as individuals with strengths and weaknesses.

"Kick-off Politics" is WELT's daily news podcast. The most important topic analyzed by WELT editors and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, among others, or directly via RSS feed.

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