A bit of self-mockery is always possible. And so the head of the Center Party makes a joke at his own expense. His party is still not well known, says Christian Otte. You can see that from the fact that in Günther Jauch’s quiz show “we were only asked for at the 64,000 euro level”. In the future, however, they want to appear with the 50-euro question because anyone can answer it.
Jörg Meuthen should fulfill this hope. The ex-AfD boss is sitting next to Otte at a press conference on Friday. The news he brought with him: Meuthen wants to do politics in the German Center Party in the future. The economics professor smiles and holds his freshly issued membership card up to the cameras. Unlike his departed predecessors at the head of the AfD, Bernd Lucke and Frauke Petry, he is not trying to found a new party. He wants to be successful with an existing one.
Whether this can work is highly questionable. So far, the Center is a splinter party. In the state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, she got 0.1 percent of the votes, and she wasn’t even on the ballot paper in the last federal election. At the beginning of the year it had just 300 members, but according to the treasurer there are now more than 500. The increase could be related to the ex-AfD politician Uwe Witt, who joined the center in January and the party after 65 years a Bundestag mandate as well as brought some attention.
What the representatives of the party emphasize is its long history. The strongly Catholic party was founded in 1870 and was one of the most important political forces during the German Empire and the Weimar Republic. She provided the Reich Chancellor several times. It dissolved in 1933 and was re-established in 1945. After that, however, it never regained its former importance, and there was no longer any room for it alongside the CDU. In the past decades, it only had municipal elected representatives. The fact that it has a member of the Bundestag and now, with Meuthen, a member of the European Parliament, is an unexpected stroke of luck for the party, which has been meaningless for many years.
However, it is unclear how to proceed. In the state elections in Lower Saxony, they want to set an “exclamation mark”, explained Otte. “We want to make an offer to those who don’t feel understood by the Union and the SPD. We stand for a reason-oriented, sober and not ideologically whipped up policy,” explained Otte. Meuthen speaks of the Center Party being “conservative but not reactionary, liberal but not arbitrary, social but not socialist, patriotic but not nationalist.” What does that mean? Concrete content is rare.
But Meuthen emphasizes one thing: the Center Party should not become a reservoir for ex-AfDler. “There won’t be an AfD 2.0.” In fact, it’s quite possible that other frustrated officials will leave the AfD in the near future. Any applications for admission should be examined very carefully by the Center Party, explains Meuthen. “It’s not about maximum, rapid growth.” It is questionable whether the center would really refuse if other AfD representatives knocked on its door.
Meuthen himself left the AfD in January. For six and a half years he had led the right-wing party. At first he made deals with the radicals in the AfD, later he tangled with them and pushed for the dissolution of the far-right “wing” in the AfD. In the end he was increasingly isolated and could no longer assert himself.
It cannot be ruled out that Meuthen could take over the chair at the center. Party leader Otte declared that he would not defend himself with “claw and tooth” if the party wanted someone other than him at the top. Jörg Meuthen should have liked to hear that.