A boxing legend is supposed to give the CDU in opposition intellectual impetus again, at least if Andreas Rödder has his way. The historian is chairman of the commission “Foundation of values ​​and foundations of the CDU”. The party presidium approved the draft of this body for the preamble of a new “Charter of Fundamental Values” of the CDU on Monday in Berlin.

“We actually have to stick to the principle of Muhammad Ali,” recommended Rödder when presenting the principles he helped to develop in the Konrad-Adenauer-Haus. He recalled the World Champion’s advice: “Fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee!”

The Christian Democrats would also have to “fly intellectually like a butterfly and sting like a bee”. The party, which was punished in the federal election eight months ago, has to fight fundamental debates again and it has to lead them “intellectually in a satisfaction-capable manner”. The many guests in the CDU party headquarters gave applause.

Without the background, the departure that the CDU has now undertaken under its chairman Friedrich Merz cannot be understood. Because in the 16 years of Chancellorship of the CDU chairwoman Angela Merkel with changing government partners in the federal government, former pillars of Christian Democratic politics such as conscription or nuclear power have been put aside without long debate. Also because the chancellor avoided polarization against other parties in the course of the “asymmetric demobilization”, many Christian Democrats finally had trouble defining what their party actually still stood for. They felt spiritually gutted.

That is exactly what should change now if Merz and Secretary General Mario Czaja have their way. The last basic CDU program was decided 15 years ago, the world was completely different then, as several speakers emphasized. “Today the CDU is back, going towards 30 percent,” said party Vice Carsten Linnemann with a view to the current poll values.

Linnemann directs the work of the ten specialist groups to develop the overall program. When formulating the new guidelines, he promised, the entire party would be invited to participate: “We’ll leave the doors open, fresh air has to come in.”

Party leader Merz then became fundamental himself. “The CDU in Germany, we confidently say, is the only political force that does not see stability and change as opposites, but as two sides of the same coin,” he explained, recalling the first basic program of 1978.

After a few jabs at the “so-called ’68ers” and the unnamed Chancellor, who did not fill the “Zeitenwende” with political content, Merz quoted from the “Ludwigshafen Program” from 1978: “The CDU wants different points of view through common values ​​and goals associate. Political action for the benefit of the entire people requires leadership and a willingness to compromise.” This is still valid.

For the party leader, the following applies: “When the world is changing, the CDU must not stand still.” In the current crisis after Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, it is becoming clear that freedom and security are interdependent. “Debt is basically nothing more than a refusal to think seriously about the future,” warned the chairman. Germany has missed 30 years “to give an appropriate answer to the demographic change, which is particularly suitable for the younger generation”.

“The basis of Christian Democratic politics is the Christian understanding of man,” says the draft for the preamble: “On the basis of the Christian image of man, the CDU combines social, liberal and conservative attitudes and concerns.” shared core values. Rödder, who was previously a harsh critic of Merkel’s “lack of alternatives”, also switched on from New York City, referred to the Christian image of man. This is an extremely important statement, he said: “This charter of basic values ​​wants to make a difference.” The basic difference lies in “that we start from the individual person and not from a group membership”. Rödder is also a columnist for the Tagesspiegel.

The text names climate change and environmental destruction as a threat to “our life and our ideas”, but also calls on the CDU to present itself as a guarantor of prosperity and security. In the preamble, the Christian Democrats claim to continue to be a people’s party. “We trust in the idea of ​​the People’s Party and its importance for our democracy – today and in the future,” it says.

However, Rödder and his co-authors also address the deficits that they see in the CDU and represent the hurdles on the way to a modern people’s party – including the low presence of women in the CDU and the gap to citizens with a migration background. “This means that in the future more women will help shape politics and contribute their interests to the CDU, as will more people with a history of immigration and more young people,” they write. So far, an above-average number of older people have voted for the Union. Many younger people voted for the Greens and FDP in the federal elections.

The board of directors is to deal with the charter on June 15, and it is to be decided at the federal party conference in September in Hanover. The program is to be developed by 2024. As evidence of the CDU’s culture of debate, Merz cited a quote from the British historian Timothy Garton Ash: “The goal is not that we all agree. The goal is that we agree on how we argue with each other.”