Kanzlerwahlverein No More?

Failed Internal Coalition Building and the CDU/CSU’s 2021 Campaign

in German Politics and Society
Matthias DillingAssistant Professor, Swansea University, UK

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In 2021, Germany’s Christian Democrats suffered their worst election defeat in a post-war federal election. This article looks at the campaign that preceded this downfall. While the cdu’s party congress in early 2021 showed favorable signs for a successful campaign, Armin Laschet, the newly elected party leader, missed the opportunity to unify the cdu’s different wings and consolidate a coalition backing his leadership. This resulted in a damaging clash with the csu over the chancellor candidacy and ongoing internal disunity. Laschet attempted to rectify this very late in the campaign, but his team failed to integrate the cdu/csu’s most important actors. The Christian Democrats were thus ill-equipped to respond to a difficult context and unexpected developments. Returning to its traditional factional integration will be paramount for the cdu/csu to rebound from this historic defeat.

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