Anyone who wants to belittle says: Friedrich Merz has put himself between all chairs with his statements on “social tourism” and the “little pashas”. But the truth is: With this positioning, Friedrich Merz opted for a standing room – right at the exit of the bourgeois camp.

His rhetorical double boom, which he unleashed in the talk show studios of Markus Lanz and Bild TV, has increased his political loneliness. Friedrich Merz is and will remain the man who protrudes from the 20th century into the 21st century, stoic, often bad-tempered, likes to be dashing: Friedrich, the rough one.

Anyone watching him at his political work might get the impression that his primary aim is not to improve the reputation of the CDU, but rather to be right first. He always wants to prove it to everyone, the media and Merkel, Söder and the zeitgeist.

1. Business has no interest in a culture war over immigration. In view of the demographic dip, which means that around 400,000 employees leave the productive core of our economy in the direction of retirement each year, many companies are concerned about their domestic value creation. For them, labor migration is not the problem, but the solution.

Important to know: The entrepreneurs do not want to deal with the indisputable integration deficits in agitative manner, but rather see them solved in practice.

2. Christian Lindner’s FDP cannot and does not want to follow Friedrich Merz in foreigner policy. “Anyone who talks in general terms about social tourism and ‘little pashas’ cannot justify any claim to leadership for modern Germany,” said Lindner on Saturday at the state party conference of the NRW-FDP in Bielefeld and before that when visiting the FAZ editors.

Political liberalism thrives on distancing itself from conservative-reactionary positions. Lindner’s tone is inviting, Merz’s tone is exclusionary. Lindner sounds like a chance, the CDU man like a call back into history. One believes one hears the belated echo of Franz Josef Strauss and the early Edmund Stoiber.

3. There is rumbling in the Union because the dashing Merz course is not supported by the Merkel CDU, which still enjoys cultural hegemony. Only recently at the closed conference in Weimar, Merkel’s former Secretary General and later Health Minister Hermann Gröhe asked Merz for “plain language without collateral damage”. In the Pioneer capital podcast, Serap Güler, the former integration officer of the NRW state government, becomes clearer: “We need a culture of welcome, especially when it comes to those we need.”

4. Churches, social organizations and the DGB can only shake their heads at this Wüterich on the CDU presidency. You have no choice but to distance yourself from Friedrich Merz as a reflex. No one disputes the facts, but no one wants to see them addressed in this callous and sweeping way. Contrary to Merz’s belief, his type of confrontational approach does not open up spaces for thought, but instead narrows options for action. The wound is not healed but torn open.

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5. For the Greens, Merz has raised and not lowered the barriers to possible cooperation with the CDU through his confrontational course. Its lack of connectivity could become a power strategy problem after the upcoming federal elections, when the CDU/CSU may have the strongest parliamentary group but cannot form a majority even with the FDP.

History teaches that a Merz candidate for chancellor could end up like Strauss, a candidate for chancellor in 1980, who won more votes but no coalition partner. The winner of the election was also the loser. The Chancellor’s name was Helmut Schmidt. Only when Helmut Kohl won the FDP to his side two years later did the government change.

6. In Bavaria, where Markus Söder has a good chance of lifting the CSU over 40 percent this year, a counter-model is being developed in the tonality. Law and order are not a requirement in Bavaria, but a matter of course. And the majority of those willing to work are greeted with a “Welcome” and not a disguised “Foreigners out”. A conciliatory, sensitive conservatism is emerging, which does not mean a commitment for the instinctive politician Söder, but an option.

Conclusion: The concept of “Friedrich, der Grobe” works for a talk show appearance – but it doesn’t go as far as the chancellery. The opposition leader still has the opportunity to come in and turn back. Or to paraphrase Bertolt Brecht: “Whoever says A doesn’t have to say B. He can also realise that A was wrong.”

Gabor Steingart is one of the best-known journalists in the country. He publishes the newsletter The Pioneer Briefing. The podcast of the same name is Germany’s leading daily podcast for politics and business. Since May 2020, Steingart has been working with his editorial staff on the ship “The Pioneer One”. Before founding Media Pioneer, Steingart was, among other things, Chairman of the Management Board of the Handelsblatt Media Group. You can subscribe to his free newsletter here.