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“The values ​​of these parties are simply too poor for new elections”

CDU General Secretary Carsten Linnemann does not believe that the federal government will implement the deportations to Afghanistan that Chancellor Olaf Scholz has promised. “I really hope that it will happen, but I don't believe it yet,” Linnemann said in an interview with

Regarding CDU leader Friedrich Merz's offer of talks to Scholz, Linnemann said: “If we now offer talks again, then only on the condition that the others are serious and don't play games. That also applies to the Chancellor.”

The elephant round for the European elections

This has never happened before:

Exclusive and at prime time The leaders of the six major German parties discuss the results of the European and local elections.

  • Friedrich Merz
  • Lars Klingbeil
  • Omid Nouripour
  • Christian Lindner
  • Alice Weidel
  • Sarah Wagenknecht

This unique round will be moderated by ntv politics chief Nikolaus Blome.

Turn on: ntv, Sunday, June 9, 8:15 p.m. There are European elections on Sunday, the CDU sees itself as a European party. Have you ever had an experience that you would describe as a European moment?

Carsten Linnemann: Yes, definitely. It was an exchange with France that I took part in as a teenager. It was through the town twinning of my hometown – the fact that there are so many of these is really a stroke of luck for Germany. When I was 15 or 16, I was with a family in Betton, a small town in Brittany. For me, it was a new culture, a European experience.

If the CDU and the EPP, the European People's Party, have their way, Ursula von der Leyen will be given a second term as President of the European Commission after the European elections. Her term is inextricably linked to Angela Merkel. Does Ursula von der Leyen fit in with the new Merz-Linnemann CDU?

Yes. We can see this particularly in the example of Ukraine. Here, from the very beginning, it has taken a clear and unequivocal stance on behalf of the entire European Union. You are certainly familiar with the famous question attributed to Henry Kissinger about who to call if you want to speak to Europe. Now we know: if you want to call Europe, you should contact Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

You are not on the same page when it comes to the ban on combustion engines and the Green Deal.

Mrs von der Leyen has made it clear that the aim is not to ban combustion engines. From 2035, new cars will have to be clean. We want to continue to allow climate-neutral combustion engines. The law is due to be reviewed in 2026 anyway.

In order to be confirmed as Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen needs the support of other parties. She has not ruled out cooperation with parties such as the post-fascist Fratelli d'Italia of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

We want to win. There is one very clear requirement: anyone who wants to work with us must be pro-constitutional, pro-Ukraine and pro-Europe. Period.

Does Meloni’s party meet these criteria?

A prerequisite for cooperation is that these criteria are met.

The Social Democrats have ruled out voting for Ursula von der Leyen if she receives support from one of the two right-wing factions. Could there be another surprise in the election of the President of the European Commission?

Of course, that depends on the result. We are fighting for every vote.

We meant a surprise like five years ago, when Ursula von der Leyen unexpectedly became Commission President – as a compromise candidate. Could there be such a solution again? Perhaps the former ECB President Mario Draghi?

We are playing to win. And I have a good feeling that things will turn out very well on Sunday. We have unanimously adopted our basic program, the party is more united than ever before. And we agree that our priority must be to tackle the main problem of bureaucracy and over-regulation. Because that is the central problem of the German economy in the EU.

Reducing bureaucracy is a real ongoing issue – some say that if a politician promises to reduce bureaucracy, he has already lied.

Good point.

Why is that?

Because there is a lack of courage. If you want to reduce bureaucracy, you need backbone, because then you will immediately face extreme opposition. I was in Hamburg on Monday: the Köhlbrand Bridge there was opened in 1974 after four years of construction. Replacing it is set to take until 2046. Such projects could be implemented more quickly, for example by tackling the right to collective action. But then there would be an outcry of indignation. So, first and foremost, you need courage.

On Thursday, the German Chancellor announced in the Bundestag that he would deport people to Afghanistan. Do you believe that he really wants to go through with these deportations?

I really hope that it will happen, but I don't believe it yet. The Chancellor announced in October in the “Spiegel” that deportations would take place “on a large scale”. Now this announcement. But what is crucial is what will follow from this and how it will be done. That was missing on Thursday.

Given the many legal and political hurdles, is it even honest to consider deportations to Afghanistan?

If I were Scholz, I would get on a plane tomorrow, fly to Sweden and find out how they do it. Because last year the Swedes deported several criminals to Afghanistan.

Yes, five.

There are several of them, right? We are talking about serious criminals here.

According to a study by the Bundestag's Scientific Services in April, a total of 229 Afghan nationals were deported from Sweden in 2023, but most of them to other European countries.

I know the study.

Unfortunately, it does not say how the five Afghans came to Afghanistan. There are no flights from Germany to Kabul, Germany has no diplomatic relations with the Taliban, and like most countries, Germany does not recognize the Taliban regime. How are deportations supposed to be carried out?

That is precisely why I advise you to find out more in Sweden. We in the CDU/CSU parliamentary group are currently looking into the matter. And there are obviously technical contacts between Germany and Afghanistan with regard to humanitarian aid, for example.

Which run through UN organizations.

Nevertheless, there are channels through which you can talk to them. And if the Swedes can do something like that, why shouldn't we be able to do it? You have to want it politically.

The traffic light coalition is currently negotiating the budget for the coming year, and the Bundestag is due to receive a first draft at the beginning of July. However, the debt brake sets strict limits. Do you think the coalition will manage to draw up a budget again?

That's the good thing about the debt brake: that it sets limits and enforces discipline. The Basic Law only allows an exception to the debt brake in the event of an exogenous shock, and I don't see that happening at the moment. So they have to come to an agreement. Or the coalition will fail in the budget discussions.

Which do you think is more likely?

That they come to an agreement. They probably hope that the clouds on the economic horizon will clear a little in the next few months and that they will achieve different poll ratings with a slight upturn. The current ratings of these parties are simply too poor for new elections.

There is this idea of ​​loosening the debt brake, at least for the states. Would that be something the CDU would support?

At our federal party conference, we made a clear decision that we will stick to the debt brake.

Does this also apply to the federal states?

Yes. If we didn't do that, you would be asking me about bureaucracy again in two years. Because the main problem in Germany is the rigid structures. The debt brake can help us solve this problem because it forces us to find solutions other than simply taking on more and more debt. With more debt, the pressure for reform decreases.

Next week you want to decide on the Habeck investigation committee. What exactly are you accusing the Minister of Economic Affairs of? That as minister he made a political decision on the nuclear phase-out? That is his job.

We want to check whether documents have been withheld and we want clarity about the basis on which the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs made his decision.

Ultimately, you argue that it would have been possible to continue operating the nuclear power plants. But Habeck does not deny that.

That is not the core of our concern. We do not believe that the review was really open-ended and ideology-free, as Habeck promised in 2022. There are reports that certain information was suppressed in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of the Environment. We want the whole truth to come to light.

Were the files you have received from the ministries so far not enough for you?

No. As the opposition, we have a duty to investigate the events that led to the phase-out of nuclear energy at the height of the energy crisis. This is not just about our industrial base, but also about the credibility of politics.

Wolfgang Schäuble writes in his biography about the first committee of inquiry, which he experienced as a young MP in the 1970s: “It was only during the course of the proceedings that I recognized the fundamental political The nature of such events, where the majority situation actually anticipates the formal committee result to a certain extent, so that in the end, as is usually the case in political competition, it is more about public approval.” Are you trying to humiliate the Greens in the upcoming election campaign?

No, it is about our parliamentary control function.

In his reply to the Chancellor on Thursday, CDU leader Friedrich Merz made an offer of talks. In January he said that the CDU and CSU had nothing left to discuss with the traffic light coalition. Why the change of heart?

We have never been fundamentally opposed, we have agreed to more than 100 laws of the traffic light coalition. And we have always done so when we thought it made sense. If we now offer talks again, then only on the condition that the others are serious and do not play games. This also applies to the Chancellor. In the past few days, events have escalated so dramatically that we see an urgent need for action. The Union is ready.

Volker Petersen and Hubertus Volmer spoke with Carsten Linnemann

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