"For many years, the CDU wasn't a party
immigrants could identify with.
In 2013 I was the first Muslim woman
and first child of Turkish guest workers
to represent the CDU in the Bundestag."
– Angela Merkel steps down as chancellor after Germany’s September election. Her Christian Democratic Union claims to be a ‘people’s party’ but factions within it are pulling in quite contradictory directions. Berlin, Aug.17.
Joe Chialo is the Christian Democratic Union candidate for a Berlin constituency in Germany’s 26 September federal election. In his office he has a CDU campaign poster for the federalelection of 1957, showing Ludwig Erhard in a suit and tie with the well-known slogan ‘Prosperity for All’. ‘That’s still a core party value,’ said Chialo, CEO of a music agency, as he squeezed me in between a photoshoot and ‘an urgent meeting with an artist’.
Chialo, who cultivates an informal image (no tie), is the son of a Tanzanian diplomat and went to a Catholic boarding school in Bonn. He became a CDU activist in 2016. ‘Before that... I was with the Greens. They put climate change center stage in politics but were too hung up on ideology. What I like about the CDU is that they’re pragmatic. And they want to govern.’
The CDU is a machine for producing chancellors: the Federal Republic has had a CDU chancellor for 52 of its 76 years. Merkel has held the office for 16 of them, as long as Helmut Kohl, but, unlike him, decided to retire from politics before losing an election. For this election, the CDU’s new leader Armin Laschet is heading the campaign. His program, For Stability and Renewal, shared with the Christian Social Union (CSU), the CDU’s sister party in Bavaria, displays the CDU’s usual contortions: it was harsh in its treatment of Greece during the 2010-15 debt crisis yet welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees in the migration crisis that followed; for decades, it promoted traditional family life (a woman’s place was still in the home), then gave Germany its first woman chancellor.
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