Joachim-Friedrich Martin Josef Merz (born November 11, 1955 in Brilon ) is a German politician ( CDU ) and has been the federal leader of his party since January 22, 2022. In the 2021 federal election , Merz returned to the Bundestag as a directly elected member of the Hochsauerland district .
From 1989 to 1994, Merz was a member of the European Parliament and from 1994 to 2009 of the German Bundestag . From 2000 to 2002 he was chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group and thus leader of the opposition .
Origin, studies and occupation
Friedrich Merz was born in 1955 as the eldest of four children of the Merz couple into a conservative family of lawyers . His father, Joachim Merz (* 1924), was a judge at the Arnsberg District Court and a member of the CDU until 2007. His mother, Paula Merz, née Sauvigny (* 1928), comes from the long-established Sauvigny family in Brilon . Merz' grandfather, Josef Paul Sauvigny , was an administrative lawyer and mayor of Brilon from 1917 to 1937 .
Friedrich Merz was a student at the Brilon Gymnasium Petrinum from 1966 to 1971 , where he was considered an undisciplined student with learning difficulties and, after repeating the 8th grade, had to leave school due to severe disciplinary problems . According to his father's will, his son would have become a bricklayer . For the 1971/72 school year, Merz switched to the Friedrich-Spee-Gymnasium in Rüthen . There, Merz's school performance developed much more positively and he passed his Abitur in 1975.
Bundeswehr, law studies and professional activity
After 15 months of military service in the armored artillery , Merz left the Bundeswehr as a corporal in 1976 . As a scholarship holder of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation he studied law at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University Bonn and the Philipps-University Marburg from 1976-1982 . He completed his studies in 1982 with the first state examination in law. From 1982 to 1985 he completed his preparatory service , including at the Saarbrücken Regional Court . After the second state law examination, Merz worked as a probationary judge at the district court of Saarbrücken in 1985/86 . From 1986 to 1989 he worked as a legal counsel for the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI) in Bonn and Frankfurt am Main.
Friedrich Merz has been married to the current director of the Arnsberg district court , Charlotte Merz (* 1961 as Charlotte Gass), since 1981. He has three adult children with her, a son and two daughters. He is a grandfather of five. Merz is Roman Catholic , has lived in Arnsberg since 1994 and has a holiday home in Gmund am Tegernsee ( Bavaria ) . He is a radio amateur and plays the clarinet . Merz also holds a private pilot's license .
Joined the CDU and worked in the Junge Union
Friedrich Merz joined the CDU as a high school student in 1972 and was intensively involved in the Junge Union in Brilon in his free time, of which he was chairman in 1980.
From 1994 to 2009, Merz was a directly elected member of the German Bundestag in the Hochsauerland district, where he achieved his best first- vote result in 2005 with 57.7% . After the federal elections in 1998 , Merz first became deputy chairman in October 1998 and in February 2000 succeeded Wolfgang Schäuble as chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group and thus leader of the opposition. In the Hohmann affair , after a long hesitation, he positioned himself in the CDU presidium with the words "Hohmann is a right-wing extremist" for a tougher course against this, after he had previously tried for a long time as group leader, Martin Hohmann from the speaker lists in the Bundestag to be deleted.
After the federal elections in 2002 , the CDU party leader Angela Merkel claimed the leadership of the parliamentary group, while Merz was elected deputy leader of the parliamentary group. In December 2004 he resigned from this office and thus lost the long-standing power struggle with Angela Merkel. In addition to his mandate in the Bundestag, Friedrich Merz worked as a lawyer in the Cologne law firm Cornelius Bartenbach Haesemann and Partners from 2002 to 2004.
In February 2007, Merz announced that he would not run again in the 2009 general election because of internal party differences. With the constitution of the 17th Bundestag at the end of October 2009, Merz consequently left parliament. His successor in the constituency was Patrick Sensburg , who won the constituency, a stronghold of the CDU, from 2009 to 2017 with clear results.
Merz announced on Twitter on March 2, 2021 that he wanted to run for a seat in the Bundestag and ran against Patrick Sensburg. On April 17, 2021, the delegates chose Merz as the direct candidate with 327 out of 459 votes. On September 3, 2021, he was appointed to Armin Laschet ’s eight-person “future team” for the chancellor candidacy for the 2021 federal elections .
In the 2021 federal election , Merz won the direct mandate for the Hochsauerland district with 40.4% of the votes.
Candidates for the CDU party chairmanship (2018, 2020 and 2021)
First candidature 2018
On October 30, 2018, Friedrich Merz announced that he would be running for party chairmanship alongside Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Jens Spahn at the federal party conference of the CDU in December 2018. He was officially proposed as a candidate on November 6, 2018 by the board of the CDU district association in the Fulda district . The candidacy was linked to an alleged collusion between members of the so-called Andean Pact , who met on the sidelines of Cardinal Lehmann 's funeral in Mainz in March 2018 to discuss Angela Merkel's successor. Allegedly, Wolfgang Schäuble was in charge, who sponsored Merz in conservative circles in the run-up to the CDU party congress and is said to have arranged important contacts; the common underlying motive was revenge and satisfaction, a return match against Merkel. Friedrich Merz has never officially confirmed or denied that he was accepted into the Andean Pact. Merz told the news magazine Spiegel in 2005 that he did not want to comment on the matter. The state association of North Rhine-Westphalia did not support any of the candidates.
At the CDU federal party conference on December 7, 2018, Merz received 48.25% of the votes in the second ballot and lost the election to Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
Second candidacy 2020
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced on February 10, 2020 that she would resign as CDU party leader in the course of 2020. As a result, Merz announced his renewed candidacy for the CDU federal presidency on February 25, 2020 before the federal press conference. In addition to Merz, Armin Laschet , Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, applied in a joint candidacy with Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn as Vice-Chairman, and Norbert Röttgen , member of the Bundestag for the CDU . The board of Merz' state association North Rhine-Westphalia spoke out in favor of Laschet with a large majority. The women's union also spoke out against Merz and for Armin Laschet or Norbert Röttgen.
The election of the new CDU party leader was originally planned at the regular CDU party conference on December 4, 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic , this was postponed to January 2021 by the CDU leadership committee on October 26, 2020. Friedrich Merz interpreted this postponement of the party conference as part of an alleged strategy by the "CDU establishment" to prevent his election as chairman. At the time , Robert Pausch rejected allegations against Merz that compared his choice of words with that of US President Donald Trump , pointing out that this criticism belittles Trump and his strategy. On the other hand, Franka Welz ( Tagesschau.de ) wrote that one should "not adopt the rhetoric of the AfD ". It cannot be "that a candidate for the CDU presidency first - probably to put pressure on the party leadership - conjures up a conspiracy by the party establishment against him and reacts to criticism with reference to alleged speaking bans". Merz published a book about a month before the original election date; his first book publication after 10 years. Merz submitted his "260-page letter of application," wrote the editorial network Germany. He pleaded for a coalition with the Greens in 2020.
At the 2021 CDU federal party conference , which was held digitally because of the corona pandemic , Merz lost in a runoff election by 466 to 521 votes to his competitor Armin Laschet . In the first ballot, Merz was still ahead of Laschet with 380 and Röttgen with 224 votes with 385 votes. After his electoral defeat, Merz declined to take on a post in the presidium of the CDU because “not only men from North Rhine-Westphalia” could sit there, and instead proposed replacing the incumbent Peter Altmaier as the new Federal Minister of Economics in the Merkel cabinet . Chancellor Merkel then immediately announced that "no government reshuffle was planned". His proposal was also heavily criticized by Merz supporters within the CDU.
Third candidacy 2021
After the lost federal election in 2021, Armin Laschet announced that he would give up the CDU presidency. Regarding the personnel situation, Laschet said that a realignment at the top of the CDU was necessary. To do this, you also have to “take unconventional paths”.
On November 16, 2021, Friedrich Merz announced his candidacy for the CDU chairmanship for the third time. He also announced that if he were elected, he would propose Mario Czaja , a member of the Bundestag and former Berlin Senator for Social Affairs , as Secretary General and Christina Stumpp , a member of the Bundestag , for the new post of Deputy Secretary General. The CDU district executive of his home association in Hochsauerland nominated him for election to the party executive. After Norbert Röttgen and Helge Braun , Merz was the third applicant to succeed Armin Laschet. The preliminary decision on the future chairman was made by around 400,000 party members in December. According to the result of the member survey announced on December 17, 2021, Merz achieved an absolute majority of 62.1 percent in the first ballot, Röttgen received 25.8 percent and Helge Braun 12.1 percent of the votes. Voter turnout was 66.02 percent. The new chairman was finally elected by the 1,001 CDU delegates at a party conference on January 22, 2022, which was held digitally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Merz was elected the new CDU chairman with 94.6 percent of the delegate votes. According to Merz, the CDU must quickly and constructively accept its opposition role: "It is important that the party radiates self-confidence and confidence again, that we accept this role and not say, like Franz Müntefering, 'Opposition is crap'," stressed Merz. “No, opposition is also a voter mandate, it is a constitutive part of our country's democratic system. That's why we have something to do there. And if we do it well, today's opposition is tomorrow's government.”
Activities as a commercial lawyer, management consultant and member of the supervisory board
IPO of RAG
In 2005, Friedrich Merz became a partner in the Mayer Brown law firm. He has been Senior Counsel in Mayer Brown's Düsseldorf office since 2014. In 2006, the law firm advised RAG Aktiengesellschaft on its planned IPO, which caused public outrage. In the proceedings regarding the publication obligations of MPs, Merz defended his right to practice this profession. However, in the corresponding decision of July 4, 2007, the Federal Constitutional Court took the view that "...the deputy [...] is obliged to avoid specific conflicts of interest that arise for him from paid activities outside of his mandate by not taking on the activity giving rise to the conflict to be avoided by not exercising the mandate.”
Former supervisory board mandates
In addition to his activities as a lawyer, Merz was a member of the following supervisory boards, advisory boards and administrative boards:
- DBV Winterthur Holding AG
- Alba / Interseroh
- Commerzbank AG (until the end of 2009)
- IVG Immobilien AG (until May 20, 2010)
- AXA Group AG (until June 30, 2014)
- BASF Antwerpen NV (until June 30, 2014)
- Borussia Dortmund Management GmbH (until June 30, 2014)
- Deutsche Börse AG (until May 13, 2015)
- Stadler Rail AG (until April 30, 2020)
In 2010, Merz was appointed to the Board of Directors of HSBC Trinkaus & Burkhardt , a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc (Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) . In the same year, Merz was also commissioned by the Soffin bank rescue fund to manage the sale of WestLB to a private investor . In June 2010 he was elected to the supervisory board of HSBC Trinkaus & Burkhardt. After negotiations began on a partial sale of WestLB with HSBC Trinkaus & Burkhardt, his position ended in mid-May 2011. Some media suspected a conflict of interest because of his membership of the HSBC supervisory board, which Merz rejected. According to unconfirmed media reports, Merz is said to have received a daily fee of 5,000 euros. According to the Federal Association of German Management Consultants (BDU), such a daily rate is not completely unusual, but "at the upper limit". Frontal21 criticized that Merz also received 5,000 euros per day on Saturdays and Sundays (a total of 1,980,000 euros for 396 days) for "unsuccessful work" from the taxpayer.
From 2016 to 2020, Merz was chairman of the board and lobbyist for BlackRock in Germany (BlackRock is the largest wealth manager in the world). In this context, Merz's candidacy for party chairmanship of the CDU in 2018 was picked up in the German press, among other things because of a possible conflict of interest. In February 2020, Merz announced that he would end his supervisory board mandate at Blackrock on March 31, 2020 and that he would be more politically active.
From 2017 to the end of 2020 he was Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Flughafen Köln/Bonn GmbH.
From 2009 to 2021, Merz was Chairman of the Supervisory Board of WEPA Industrieholding SE .
In 2017, the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia commissioned Merz to coordinate the impact of Brexit on NRW. In 2018, the purpose and effectiveness of his work in the state parliament were controversial.
activities in organizations
On the occasion of Friedrich Merz's 50th birthday in 2005, the Merz couple founded the Friedrich and Charlotte Merz Foundation , both of which are members of the board. The foundation supports non-profit educational projects based in the city of Arnsberg. The capital base was initially 10,000 euros, in 2016 an endowment of 371,900 euros was made.
Merz has been a member of the Catholic student association KDStV Bavaria Bonn in his CV since 1977 and is a member of the following organizations: Rotary Club Arnsberg, German Lawyers' Association (DAV), German-American Lawyers' Association (DAJV), Frankfurt Future Council, Trilateral Commission , German National Foundation and Atlantic bridge .
Merz was a founding member in 2005 and a member of the association promoting the New Social Market Economy Initiative until it was dissolved in 2014 .
Friedrich Merz is one of the editors of the trade journal Der Betriebs .
Between 2019 and 2021 he was Vice-President of the CDU-affiliated Economic Council .
Millionaire and middle class debate
In November 2018, when asked in an interview with the " Bild -Talk" "The Right Questions", Merz said that he was a millionaire (without distinguishing between an income millionaire and a wealth millionaire) and belonged to the upper middle class :
“I would count myself among the upper middle class in Germany and not among this small, very wealthy, very wealthy upper class – certainly not. [Are you a millionaire?] I live in an orderly personal and economic situation that gives me a high degree of personal and political independence. […] In any case, I’m not under it.”
A few days later he specified in the picture on Sunday that he earns "about one million euros gross" per year. These statements met with a wide public response and triggered criticism. Journalists , economists and financial advisors in Germany place Merz in the upper class . According to the Deutsche Bundesbank , if you have (total) net assets of at least 722,000 euros, you belong to the top 5 percent of the German population, i.e. clearly to the upper class. Friedrich Merz's private assets include Real estate in Arnsberg and in Gmund am Tegernsee as well as two aircraft, a Diamond DA62 that he flies himself and a Socata TBM-910 that he leases to WEPA Industrieholding SE through his company Volatus GmbH & Co. KG.
Political positions, controversies and criticism
Friedrich Merz is assigned to the economically liberal wing of the CDU. He campaigned for economic deregulation and privatization . In the 2000s, Merz advocated cuts in social benefits and advocated genetic engineering and nuclear power at the time. In 2020, too, he suggested, "After the acute crisis, we should review all government services from the federal, state and local governments", this "also applies to social transfer payments ", and instead he called for "helping companies that have proven had that they operated successful business models". He has been classified as a proponent of trickle-down economics , which assumes that as the wealthy increases, so does the poor.
Suffrage and Discourses
In 2002, Merz called for the introduction of first-past-the- post system, as it strengthened parliament over the government.
Merz considers the Swiss referendum system to be anti-innovative and slow . Merz also takes the view that talk shows and referenda as a substitute for parliamentary debates would harm democracy.
In 2018, Merz spoke out in favor of limiting the term of office of the Federal Chancellor to two terms. His main argument is that the change is good for democracy. In addition, this task requires “an enormous amount of strength and energy”.
A tax concept developed under his leadership in the fall of 2003 caused a stir, which, with three tax brackets of 12, 24 and 36 percent, provided the framework for significantly lower income tax rates than the then current tax law. The CDU adopted his concept in a resolution of the federal party conference in December 2003. The concept borrowed from the Kirchhof model , which wanted to combine tax types; In contrast to this model, which was later advocated instead of the Merz model in the 2005 Union election campaign, it saw the tax concession of spouse splitting as still necessary.
His statement that every citizen should be able to calculate their income tax on a beer coaster was well received in the media. This would not have been so easy due to the numerous exceptions and rules contained in his model when determining the taxable income: In addition to employee allowances and deductible pension contributions and donations, the concept provided for capital gains taxes already paid to be taken into account in the calculation and up to add the tax bracket rates for church tax and solidarity surcharge, which was not included in the example beer coasters he presented and used as campaign material. Both the beer mat he presented and on display today in the House of History of the Federal Republic of Germany and a presumed “original beer mat” leaked to the taz contain errors due to tax levels that were used incorrectly or not communicated at all. In 2020, Merz admitted that he had miscalculated his beer coaster bill. Nevertheless, this beer mat in particular has become a symbol and myth for simplifying and reducing bureaucracy in a complicated system, which has repeatedly made Merz a beacon of hope. Eckhart Lohse writes in the Frankfurter Allgemeine: "With Merz hopes are connected in the CDU. One speaks of a "Messiah myth", another calls him the "James Dean" of German politics, who "died soon enough". to attain "hero status."
In 2018, Merz called for the early abolition of the solidarity surcharge in addition to a fundamental simplification of income tax .
In January 2021, Merz spoke out against a wealth levy or wealth tax on billionaires demanded by the SPD and the left to cope with the financial burden of the corona pandemic.
In April 2021, a statement by Merz caused a stir in which he claimed there was a connection between government debt and a liquidity trap . Some economists have criticized this link as wrong. Peter Bofinger , Professor of Economics , former Federal Government economics expert , supporter of cash abolition and author of the standard work Fundamentals of Economics , commented on Merzen's statement that "perhaps his professor didn't explain it correctly in the lecture. Or Merz didn't pay attention. Or maybe he just wanted to include that term.”
Economist Adam Tooze called a possible Finance Minister Merz "a systemic risk for the EU" as he is skeptical about a deeper European Union.
Socio-politically, Merz represents conservative attitudes.
Immigration and immigration to Germany
In 2000, Friedrich Merz brought the German term “ Leitkultur ”, which had been used two years previously by his party colleague Jörg Schönbohm , back into the public debate. In an editorial in the newspaper "Die Welt" on October 18, 2000, he criticized the wearing of headscarves by Muslim teachers in class, saying that immigrants who wanted to live in Germany permanently had to "adapt to an established, liberal German dominant culture". He demanded that foreigners in Germany “accept our manners, customs and habits”. In 2018, Merz stated that the core issue of Leitkultur was whether those who came to Germany were willing to “recognize our community of values, our rights to freedom, the order of our Basic Law and our belief in an open, free, liberal society". This is the litmus test for successful integration. However, if there were parallel societies instead of successful integration, it is not surprising that citizens would lose confidence in the rule of law. The CDU must be the party that stands for consistent action on internal security and again become the party of the rule of law without compromise. In November 2018, Merz called on Muslims to accept German law without restrictions: “There is no Sharia law here on German soil. We must have better state supervision of the Koran schools. It is not acceptable for our children to be taught in state schools and indoctrinated in Koran schools.” Accordingly, not only freedom of religion applies to Muslims in Germany, but also all other secular law in Germany.
Friedrich Merz advocated the abolition of conscription.
dealing with homosexuality
In the BUNTE issue of December 6, 2001, Merz was asked in an interview: “Germany's capital is ruled by a gay man. Do you think that's as good as Mayor Klaus Wowereit?" He replied, "As long as he doesn't approach me, I don't care! However, the second half sentence was too aggressive for me. There are others. And they think that's a good thing. Incidentally, I don't care about the private lives of leading people in public as long as they do their job well. Only at the moment does the Governing Mayor make himself the reigning party master of this city and drink champagne out of every lady's shoe. This is getting really embarrassing!” and was then criticized primarily for the first sentence of his answer.
In September 2020, in an interview with the online format of the Bild newspaper , "The Right Questions", Merz answered the question "Would you have reservations if a gay man became Federal Chancellor today" [sic]: "No". When asked "Would it be completely normal for you?" he replied:
"Well, I'll put it this way about the issue of sexual orientation: It's none of the public's business. As long as it's within the law and as long as it doesn't affect children; at this point, however, an absolute limit has been reached for me – that is not a topic for public discussion. [Question: 'But a gay chancellor?'] Not an issue for me at all.”
Linking (criminal) sexual acts with children to a sexual orientation , here homosexuality, provoked criticism, which he then accused of misunderstandings.
Merz also caused a stir and criticism with an interview after the racist attack in Hanau in 2020 , in which he spoke about "legal vacuums", "illegal immigration" and the "protection of borders", and finally, when asked by a journalist, "I conclude from that correct that your answer to the problem of right-wing radicalism is to raise the issue of clan crime , border controls and so on?” replied with “yes”. The Tagesspiegel accused Merz of ennobling the motives of the right-wing extremists and misjudging the reality of racism.
In 1995, Merz voted against the Pregnancy and Family Assistance Amendment Act, which liberalized abortion rights in response to a Federal Constitutional Court decision.
When the Bundestag decided in 1997 to treat rape in marriage as extramarital rape instead of punishing it as coercion under of the Criminal Code , Merz voted with another 137 MPs against the then new criminalization of the offense. Conservative politicians warned that marriage would be devalued if women could sue their husbands for rape and therefore did not want to criminalize spousal rape. The draft law did not contain a "contradiction clause" demanded by the 138 Union politicians, which would have given the wife the opportunity to stop criminal proceedings against the accused married to her after the wife had already made a complaint. Since it was critically pointed out in the political debate that victims with a contradiction clause could be put under strong pressure by the perpetrators to withdraw a report of a crime, a decision was ultimately made on an application without this clause. It is unclear how many MPs voted against the proposed resolution due to the lack of an objection clause, although a failure of the vote would still not have criminalized marital rape. Merz said in 2020 that he had never voted against criminalizing rape in marriage, but that the vote (for him) was about the question of whether the penal code had a "contradiction clause" (CDU/CSU) or a "reconciliation clause" (SPD) would be included. He justified his voting behavior by saying that he feared that the threat of criminal proceedings due to false allegations by quarreling spouses would do more harm than good to the protection of the women concerned. Merz said in 2020 that he stood by his voting behavior at the time, but would decide differently from today's perspective. According to De Masi, Merz unsuccessfully took legal action against statements by left-wing politician Fabio De Masi that he had voted against criminalizing rape in marriage, since the Frankfurt district court classified this statement as fact in an initial assessment. In 2000, Merz considered the civil partnership law to be unconstitutional because it undermined the protection and status of marriage. In 2018, Merz advocated the introduction of same-sex marriage , but criticized the "overnight" introduction, which he saw as rushed.
labor market policy
Merz described the Hartz IV reforms as progress compared to the previous situation, but spoke out in favor of significantly greater reductions in the standard rates. Merz praised a study by researchers at Chemnitz University of Technology , which calculated an amount of between €132 and €278 for a livelihood in the narrowest sense. The SGB II standard rate for securing a livelihood (“Hartz IV”) was €351 at that time. At a closed meeting of the FDP, Merz regretted that the results of the study were rejected by the government. In his opinion, we shouldn't talk about an "expansion of the welfare state" but rather about its "limitation", which would also meet with understanding among workers. In the federal press conference on October 31, 2018, Merz made it clear that he himself had not been in favor of a reduction to exactly €132 and rejected a corresponding claim by journalist Tilo Jung as false. The Internet newspaper Huffington Post considered this specific claim to be misleading, but confirmed that, based on further statements, Merz "also today stands for significant savings in social policy".
pension and social policy
In 2000, Merz proposed taxing pensions in line with civil service pensions . That same year he called for the retirement age to be raised to 70. Criticism of this proposal came from the CSU , the SPD and the FDP . Ottmar Schreiner described this as a "socio-political killing spree", Horst Seehofer as "nonsense".
In 2004, Merz advocated far-reaching changes to the social system. In particular, he wanted to completely abolish dismissal protection for workers over the age of 53, and later for everyone, provided that less protection leads to more employment. In his opinion, this would have been necessary in order to maintain economic growth and employment, since there was full employment in Switzerland without protection against dismissal.
Merz thinks the introduction of the minimum wage is right. However, one should not "overdo it" with regard to the amount, otherwise unemployment among the poorly qualified could rise drastically. He also calls for an improvement in the often “precarious income and living conditions” in which single parents lived and questions whether increases in child benefit should be credited to Hartz IV.
Friedrich Merz criticizes the newly introduced basic pension of the black-red coalition in 2020. Merz warned that the pension system as such could falter. He considers the agreed basic pension to be wrong:
"It is at least a serious error in the system of our defined contribution pension insurance. We can only hope that this does not call into question the whole system.”
climate and energy policy
In August 2010, Merz was one of the 40 prominent signatories of the Energy Policy Appeal . This was intended to advance the lifetime extension of German nuclear power plants and was a lobby initiative by four large European electricity companies that operate nuclear power plants . In June 2011 he warned against a too rapid energy turnaround and the associated rising electricity prices. In 2018, Merz described the phase-out of nuclear energy as the right step, but at the same time criticized the fact that it had been carried out too hastily.
In 2019, at the Economic Day of the CDU Economic Council , Merz said that climate change was a serious problem. Bans, limit values, regulations, paternalism and ever higher energy prices are not a convincing way. The CDU must discuss market-based instruments. Merz mentioned an expansion of emissions trading to areas such as transport.
In 2020, Merz described climate policy as the "number one political issue". At the same time, the Economic Council of the CDU , of which Merz is now Vice-President, is against expanding climate policy at national and European level: In 2020, the Economic Council called the European plans to increase the EU climate protection target to 55 or more percent by 2030 “exaggerated “. Climate protection measures should be slowed down in order to design economic stimulus measures to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic . Germany is going "special paths in climate and energy policy" which "threatens de-industrialization". At the level of the European Union, the federal government should also “work for a time extension of the climate policy targets”.
Merz believes it is possible that the development of synthetic fuels could lead to cars with combustion engines continuing to be used in the future and thus no longer emitting greenhouse gases. He is committed to letting the market decide.
In the aftermath of the 2021 flood disaster , Merz said with a view to climate protection, "the Union has already done a great deal" and "there will always be floods, even if the entire ideas of Fridays for Future were to be adopted immediately".
During an election campaign appearance in Bad Saulgau on September 9, 2021, he spoke about environmental organizations. He specifically mentioned Greenpeace and the German Nature Conservation Union (NABU). He declared environmental organizations to be opponents of democracy and the market economy . The environmental organizations allegedly considered the "democratic processes in parliament" and "the social market economy" to be unsuitable. The environmental groups reacted with outrage. In the past, Merz had called for Greenpeace to be deprived of its non-profit status. The Economic Council of the CDU, to which Merz belongs, called for environmental organizations to be deprived of the right to sue companies for climate protection. Merz later only apologized to NABU. Jörg-Andreas Krüger , chairman of NABU, demanded clarification from Union Chancellor candidate Armin Laschet .
According to Merz, Germany must do more for the European Union . If Europe fails, the Germans will be the ones who will be hit the hardest. In 2018, Merz, together with Hans Eichel , Jürgen Habermas , Roland Koch , Bert Rürup and Brigitte Zypries , wrote the appeal "For a Europe in solidarity - Let's get serious about the will of our Basic Law, now!" a common European army, a strengthening of the EU Parliament and "solidarity and the fight against nationalism and egoism internally and unity, common sovereignty externally". In addition, a European labor market policy including a European unemployment insurance should be striven for. According to Merz, however, with regard to unemployment insurance, this means that common unemployment insurance at EU level must be the end point and not the starting point.
According to Merz, education and care should no longer be taken for granted by the state. These would have to be co-financed by parents and alumni. At a panel discussion in Düsseldorf , he said: “ Like schools and universities, kindergartens need their own capital base. Parents and alumni have to pay in accordingly if they want to ensure and maintain the quality.”
Asylum and Migration Policy
In a speech on October 15, 2000 in Berlin-Neukölln , Merz already complained about the effects of German migration policy: “We have problems with foreigners. (...) Problems that are now deeply worrying and moving people: with crime, with very high unemployment among foreigners, with unresolved social conflicts, also with the rest of the resident population.”
In the discussion about Germany taking in asylum seekers in Hungary in 2015, Merz said it was “a great humanitarian gesture by the Federal Republic of Germany to invite these refugees to Germany”. However, this should have remained a “one-off exception”. Merz compared Chancellor Merkel's policy in the refugee crisis in Europe from 2015 with events such as the Brexit decision by the British and the election of Donald Trump as President of the USA. The decision to open the border for refugees "made alone overnight" was "not a particularly well-considered European policy". According to Merz, it is not possible for the state to admit that it temporarily loses control over who is entering the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany. Border controls are also a measure to prevent unregulated immigration. In his opinion, open borders should not be an invitation to allow unregulated immigration into the Federal Republic of Germany.
At the end of November 2018, Merz called for a debate on asylum law. "Germany is the only country in the world that has an individual right to asylum in its constitution." If a European immigration and refugee policy is seriously desired, "a major public debate must be held as to whether a legal reservation should be included in the Basic Law writes.” Merz later fleshed out these statements and wanted them to be understood as a question of how the fundamental right to asylum and a European solution could work together.
judgment on the alternative for Germany
In July 2018, Merz told the Dresdener Morgenpost on Sunday : "I would have long since elected a vice-president of the AfD in the German Bundestag." "This party was elected with 12.6 percent. It is neither banned nor classified as unconstitutional. There are millions of voters behind her, who should not be brought into a victim role.” However, he thought it was right that the CDU should not cooperate with the AfD. There must be a very clear and razor-sharp demarcation from political extremism. In November 2018, Merz repeated that the CDU had to clearly differentiate itself from the AfD because it was openly National Socialist and had anti-Semitic undertones.
Position on ancillary income
In 2006, there were discussions about conflicts of interest among members of the Bundestag who had other activities in addition to their mandate. As a result, an agreement was reached that Members of Parliament should disclose their income from secondary activities in order to give the public an opportunity to assess whether their representatives are possibly dependent on and susceptible to harmful financial contributions from third parties. Merz, who according to one source had 18, according to another eleven and according to the German Bundestag 14, sideline jobs in addition to his work as a member of parliament at the time, filed a lawsuit with eight other members of the German Bundestag at the Federal Constitutional Court against the disclosure of their sideline income. During the hearing on October 12, 2006, Merz pointed out that, according to Article 38 of the Basic Law , MPs are "not bound by instructions and are only subject to their conscience". If the President of the Bundestag can now impose sanctions on them if they violate the obligation to disclose additional income, that would be a violation of the constitution. He stated that the regulation would drive many MPs into lifeless professional politics, although sideline activities should not be prohibited, only their number and the amount of their fees should be disclosed.
On July 4, 2007, the Federal Constitutional Court dismissed the lawsuit by a vote of four to four on the grounds that the political mandate must be "at the heart of the activity" and criticized the risk of bias from payments by companies. The advocating judges stated verbatim that there was no "viable basis" that freelance or entrepreneurial activity in addition to the mandate of a member of parliament corresponded in a special way to the constitutional model of the independent member of parliament. The aim of Art. 38, Para. 1 of the Basic Law is the “independence of interested parties who seek to assert their special interests in Parliament with incentives that appeal to the financial self-interest of MPs” and “independence from influences that are not caused by decisions of the Voters are mediated.” Especially an activity in the context of the liberal professions would pose particular dangers for the independence of the exercise of the mandate. A part-time job cannot be prohibited as a member of parliament's freedom, but requires the member of parliament to deal with this freedom responsibly, according to the negative judges. Additional income could have repercussions on the exercise of the mandate and would therefore have to be explained if necessary in order to avoid incorrect assessments.
Since this decision, the additional income of all current MPs can be viewed on the Bundestag website, but they are not listed in absolute figures, but in a multi-level system from levels 1 to 10: Level 1 includes "One-time or regular additional income from 1000 to 3500 euros per month ' and level 10, 'over 250,000 euros'. Income below 1000 euros does not have to be listed.
This disclosure made it known about Merz how much he earned in 2006 through sideline work. The Rheinische Post reported : “In 2006 Merz received at least 56,000 euros just for his involvement in the top committees of eight companies. (...) (He) works in addition to his mandate as a member of parliament as a lawyer in a well-known law firm. In addition, the Union politician is still active for a number of companies," and Manager Magazin wrote: "For his work in the law firm, Merz should pocket a nice six-figure sum every year. For the year 2006, apart from the lawyer's salary, a conservative estimate results in additional income of a quarter of a million euros for Merz."
In his youth, Merz was involved in the Catholic Young Community and has been a member of a Catholic student fraternity since his student days. At a conference, he emphasized that the letter “C” in the CDU party name stands for the Christian image of man, referring to the subject of abortion and the associated advertising ban anchored in criminal law. From the perspective of his Christian image of man, advertising for abortion is therefore out of the question. During his time as a member of the Bundestag, Merz voted for stricter regulations on abortion and spoke out against preimplantation diagnostics in 2001 .
On the occasion of the increasing persecution of Christians in the world, Merz called for consequences and named, among other things, countries "in which political Islam dominates in state and society", as well as India and the People's Republic of China . He said: "If we value our freedom, then we must defend it, no matter where or how it is threatened."
In a lecture on January 21, 2020, Merz said the following about the role of public and private media in politics:
“Right now there is a real power shift between those who spread the news and those who create the news – in favor of those who create the news. We don't need them anymore. And that's the beauty. Today you can use your own social media channels, via YouTube, you can reach an audience that the public service and private institutionalized media can no longer reach.”
His statement, in particular the sentence "We no longer need the (media)" led to protests; among other things, the German Association of Journalists wrote an open letter that wanted to remind Merz of the elementary function of the free media as the so-called “fourth pillar” of democracy. Afterwards, Merz said that he "never wanted to question the importance of the free press". Rather, he was concerned with the benefits of social media.
Assessing Donald Trump
On November 4, 2020, on the “Bild Live” program, he answered the question of how he would get along with US President Donald Trump if he were the German Chancellor himself:
"We'll be fine."
After the violent entry of Trump supporters in the storming of the Capitol in Washington in 2021 , Merz said on Twitter on January 6, 2021:
"Donald Trump is obviously not a Democrat."
In a subsequent Twitter message on January 8, 2021, he stated that "hatred of everything" raged on social media "that contradicted the world view of the frustrated left and right". Then "acts of violence in real life" would follow. Since the attackers on the Capitol were supporters of Donald Trump , including neo-Nazis, right- wing extremists and QAnon supporters, but none from the political left , his contribution received media criticism and was received as "irritating" and "misleading".
Political attitude in the corona pandemic
In March 2020, Merz performed in Frankenberg (Eder) in front of 700 visitors at a "spring reception" of the CDU, which led to criticism in advance, as major events nationwide had already been canceled to prevent the further outbreak of the corona pandemic. After the event, a corona infection from Merz became known.
In September 2020, during the corona pandemic, in an interview with the online format of the Bild newspaper “Diecorrectfragen”, after statements about allegedly too many teachers staying at home, Merz stated that employees in Germany were getting used to the situation due to the Short-time work, which has increased due to the pandemic, is too reminiscent of a life without work. The statement was then heavily criticized from various sides, whereupon Merz accused his critics of having taken his statements out of context. His statements were:
“There are just too many [teachers] staying at home. In any case, a relatively large number of people are getting used to leading a life without work at the moment. That is correct in the crisis. Only I stayed in a hotel this week where there was practically no staff at all. So - we have to be a little careful that we don't all get used to the fact that we can live without work. We have to get back to work.”
In the run-up to Christmas 2020, his statement "It's none of the state's business how I celebrate Christmas" caused a sensation, with which he argued against contact restrictions on the holidays. The German Foundation for Patient Protection criticized that this would be "exactly the method to stir up frustration in the population because of the Corona rules".
In December 2020, Merz proposed exempting vaccinated people from the rules on pandemic containment that restrict fundamental rights. Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble replied that preferential treatment for vaccinated people harbored “the danger of dividing society”.
In Germany in November 2021, in view of the sharp increase in the number of new infections (4th COVID wave), a public debate about compulsory vaccination began. Merz said on November 27, 2021: "If the current measures are not sufficient either, then I cannot rule out my approval of a general obligation to vaccinate". It is true that the decision not to be vaccinated is fundamentally part of the liberal order; however, this attitude is now increasingly becoming a burden on the freedom of those who have been vaccinated. That is why he is “initially in favor of consistent application of the 2-G rules wherever possible”. Addressing the vaccination skeptics , he said: " Please do not overstrain the solidarity of the vaccinated."
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- 2006: Dolf Sternberger Prize
- 2006: Order against the animal seriousness of the Aachen Carnival Association
- 2016: Lucius D. Clay Medal
In 2018, Friedrich Merz rejected the Ludwig Erhard Prize awarded to him by the Ludwig Erhard Foundation . He justified this with the right-wing populist journalistic activities of the chairman of the foundation, Roland Tichy , in his opinion .
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- This is how Catholic Kramp-Karrenbauer, Merz and Spahn are. catholic.de, December 7, 2018, accessed March 1, 2020 .
- Friedrich Merz: Persecution of Christians is an attack on our freedom. catholic.de, December 30, 2019, accessed March 1, 2020 .
- Merz: "We no longer need the (media)". Retrieved 8 January 2021 .
- Merz corrected: freedom of the press not in question. Berliner Morgenpost, February 18, 2020, accessed September 28, 2020 .
- Merz on picture live - "Trump and I - we'd be fine". In: image. November 4, 2020, accessed January 8, 2021 (limited view of article due to adblocker).
- Merz would no longer get along with Trump. Retrieved 8 January 2021 .
- After right-wing riots in Washington: Friedrich Merz points to the "frustrated people from the left". Retrieved January 9, 2021 .
- Merz infected with the corona virus – a few days earlier he was a guest at the CDU reception in Frankenberg. Retrieved 8 January 2021 .
- Bild.de – Berlin: Short-time work in Corona times: Merz: 'Too many are getting used to not working' . 21 September 2020 ( Online [accessed 2 December 2020]).
- Anna-Lena Ripperger: FRIEDRICH MERZ AND CORONA: Is it already Christmas today? In: Frenakfurter Allgemeine. 21 November 2020, retrieved 8 January 2021 .
- Schäuble against "privileges" - Merz demands more freedom for vaccinated people. In: ntv. December 31, 2020, retrieved January 8, 2021 .
- Interview ( Rheinische Post ), see also https://www.faz.net/aktuell/gesellschaft/gesundheit/coronavirus/corona-liveticker-merz-ueberstrapaßen-sie-die-solidaritaet-der-vaccinated-bitte-not-17305447 .html
- Philip Plickert: Trouble for the Ludwig Erhard Foundation. In: faz.net. 16 July 2018, retrieved 31 October 2018 .
|ALTERNATIVE NAMES||Merz, Joachim-Friedrich Martin Josef (full name)|
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||German politician (CDU), MP, MEP|
|BIRTH DATE||November 11, 1955|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Brilon|