Christian East Germans do not automatically vote for CDU


Central Europe

René Zeeman, RD

„Merkel is not an orthodox Christian. You can see that in her views on ethical themes like abortion. In Germany, you can see a liberalisation of Christian values.” photo iStock

In eastern Germany only one in five citizens is Christian. Until 1990, this was the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). But the believers there do not automatically vote for the Christian Democrats in the upcoming Bundestag elections. Three East Germans speak about the CDU, Merkel and their choice on September 26th.

"This year, I will vote CDU again, although I regret their left-wing course"

Frieder Seidel. photo Carina Leithold

Name: Frieder Seidel
Age: 65
Church: Evangelical Free Church
Occupation: Entrepreneur
Place of residence: Hammerbrücke

Do you always vote?

“I always cast my vote. I already did that in the GDR. Back then, I crossed out all the candidates; I voted invalid. I even did that once, together with my wife, in front of the electoral commission.”

Which party do you vote for?

"I have always voted CDU. I have been a member for twenty years. This year I will vote for the Christian Democrats again, although I regret the left-wing course of the party."

What do you mean by that left-wing course?

“Last year I published a book about Germany: Deutsche Einheit hinter den Kulissen (German unity behind the scenes, RZ). For that book, I was in contact with a former minister from the Social Democrats (SPD). He said: “Seidel, you have to be honest, Mrs Merkel is the best SPD chancellor we've ever had.”

How does the average German notice that Merkel is left-wing?

“Merkel has moved to the left, and that doesn't always make economic sense. You can see that in the cessation of nuclear energy. Merkel has increasingly adapted the content of the CDU to the mainstream. This is apparent from the entire emancipation discussion. I am in favour of women having equal rights, but a women's quota? Many women in the CDU do not want to be quota women but to hold positions based on their qualities. Those are things Merkel pushed through."

Are you bothered by the CDU's ethical policy?

“Merkel is not a conservative Christian. This is evident in ethical issues such as abortion. All around you in Germany, you see a liberalisation of Christian values. Now take the discussion around all those genders. How many possibilities are there? As a Christian, I have a lot of trouble with that."

Doesn't that lead you to choose a biblical party like Bündnis C?

"I have flirted with this party for a long time, but they never had a real chance of ruling. Second, I don't think they even want that. They say it is enough for them to attach Bible texts to the trees during the election campaign. If I want to change something, I have to be at the forefront of the power culture. And then the CDU is the only party I can identify with. The AfD has adopted different CDU positions in its party program. Still, it is a party that shouts a lot without saying anything."

What do you think of Laschet as a CDU chancellor candidate?

“I preferred Friedrich Merz. Laschet has won; one has to accept that. It is good that he wants to give Merz a position in the next administration. I would have preferred Laschet as Minister of Health."

Do both of your votes go to the CDU?

"I'm not quite there yet."

What do you mean?

"The second vote (the party vote) goes to the CDU. But I'm still hesitant about the CDU candidate in my district. You see a lot of technocrats within the CDU who only care about their career. The weekly Die Zeit recently ran an article stating that Mrs Merkel had chosen a political party in 1990, just like she was looking for a newspaper or magazine in a newsstand. Merkel then joined the CDU. That party would bring her to power."

Which coalition do you hope for after the elections?

"First, I answer negatively: preferably no red-red-green (SPD, Leftists, Greens, CNE). I prefer CDU with FDP. At the same time, I agree with Schäuble, the president of the Bundestag, when he says that the CDU can form a minority government.

The problem with a coalition with the SPD or with the Greens, we noticed in Saxony, is this: they get a small number of votes, get into government, and push through their program. That is disproportionate to their votes. That is why I am happy with Schäuble when he says: A minority government is not something to be afraid of."

Did Merkel make an effort for the former GDR?

"She has not denied her background. She is on the left of the CDU. Still, she has committed herself to the new federal states, and she has also earned a reputation internationally. No discussion about that."

Are you optimistic about the future of the Federal Republic?

"Yes, of course. We're all whining at an extremely high level, but we're not bad."

First and second vote

The German voter has to tick two boxes on his ballot. With the first vote, he chooses a candidate in his constituency, of which there are a total of 299 in Germany. The candidate with the most votes wins the entire district.

The second vote is for a party.

A voter with his first vote in his district can choose a Green candidate, while he chooses CDU with his second vote.

The seats in the Bundestag are distributed based on the second vote. Those seats are filled with candidates elected by the first vote in their constituency. The seats that remain are distributed among the so-called state lists of a party.

The number of seats in the Bundestag is not exactly fixed. In any case, there are 598, but at the moment, there are 709. The number of seats varies due to the complicated distribution of the first and second votes.

"I don't think many things within the party are Christian"

Katharina Furian. photo familie Furian

Name: Katharina Furian
Age: 59 years
Church: Evangelical Church Germany
Occupation: Head of Human Resources, Berlin-Brandenburg United Church
Place of residence: Fürstenwalde

Do you always vote?

"Yes, since the Peaceful Revolution."

Which party do you vote for?

"Most of the time, I vote for the Greens."

Not always?

"No, I also voted CDU twice. I can say exactly when that was, because that says something about my impression of Mrs Merkel. After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, she announced the end of nuclear power in a state of total shock – and I think it was real. The second time was when she opened the borders to the refugees.”

Is it not self-evident for you to vote for a Christian party even if you have a Christian background?

"There are many things within the CDU that I do not consider Christian. The C for Christian is a very flexible concept with this party."

Can you explain that?

"When it comes to creation, for example. The government is not putting an obstacle in the way of industrialised agriculture. Take the mega stables in the state of Lower Saxony. Animals are not treated well. It is always said: We are going to change that. But nothing happens. I find that unchristian.

What's more, I find it terrible that the car industry is not being restricted. We will never achieve our climate goals. Here you can race on the highway at 150 or 180 km per hour. It is laughable that the government is unable to introduce a speed limit. That is disappointing."

With her East German background, did Merkel commit herself specifically to the Ossies?

"Her personality is typically East German. Her performance is so unspectacular. She is not like: Look at me. I admire her very much for that. Other than the points I mentioned, she is a special person to me. Her resignation, her unbelievable mind, her humour."

But has she committed herself specifically to East Germany?

"I don't know. Regarding the lower esteem of the East Germans, she has always said: Do your job well in the place where you grew up. She had done that herself as well. She wanted to set an example by her way of governing and living."

Which government do you hope for after September 26th?

“In any case, I hope that there will be a government without AfD. I want the tone to become a bit more humane and civilised again. Now many politicians are beating their chests like a gorilla and think they have already engaged in politics. Politics is more. There is no respect. I hope the Greens will be in government."

Do both your first and second votes go to the Greens?


Do you hope for Annalena Baerbock as chancellor?

"Yes. I know about that plagiarism issue. At the same time, it works in politics so that if someone sticks his neck out, he will be hunted. That's how I see it. She may have committed plagiarism. On the other hand, everyone has something to say. Baerbock is young, courageous, and she takes her responsibility."

Are you optimistic about the future of the Federal Republic?

"Oh yeah. Times have been tough with the AfD because of the refugees. Merkel then said: "If we have to apologise for showing a friendly face in an emergency, I don't feel at home in this country anymore." That was very impressive."

"The Christian Democrats only look at the economy"

Linda Günther. photo Haltepunkt E

Name: Linda Gunther
Age: 28 years
Church: Evangelical Church Germany
Occupation: Church planter at Haltepunkt E
Place of residence: Rostock

Do you always cast your vote?

"Yes. I just haven't been able to do it that often yet, but when there are elections, I vote."

Which party do you vote for?

"I am a floating voter. Earlier I voted for the SPD and the Leftists. This year I'm going for the Greens. That is, that's where my second vote goes.

With my first vote, I always choose someone who has the best chance against the CDU candidate. When I lived in Potsdam, I voted for the SPD candidate because he had the best chance of beating the CDU."

Who has the best chance of beating the CDU candidate?

"I do not know yet. I have not yet studied the candidates for Rostock. I lean towards the SPD because it is strong here in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania."

But what about your Christian background?

"Yes and no. I was raised non-Christian; my family is non-religious. My husband made me attend church six years ago and helped me come to faith."

With a Christian background, why don't you vote CDU?

"The CDU is a Christian party in name. You see that the party professes Christian views with her mouth but does not act on them. I am thinking, for example, of the corruption scandals in the corona pandemic that occurred under Merkel. But even if you look at immigration policy, you can't help but say that Merkel does not take a clear position in the European Union. At least she doesn't act like a Christian. That is why I cannot support the CDU."

You are not positive about Merkel.

"No, I am not."

Merkel has an East German background, was that reflected in her policy? I mean, did she want the best for the Ossies?

"I have the impression that it hardly played a role. She was not, in my opinion, Chancellor of the Ossies. At the same time, I must say that I was not born during the GDR. So, I don't know whether I can judge that correctly. My parents, who were born in the GDR, are not positive about her.

Many things that she announced did not get off the ground. I am thinking, for example, of the equalisation of pensions in East and West Germany. Those differences are still there. Salaries are also not equal. Much has been promised, but little has changed."

What kind of government do you hope for after September 26th?

"I hope we get a Green Chancellor, Annalena Baerbock. Green-red-red (Green-SPD-Linken, RZ) is the ideal government for me. That is not very likely. I hope that now another party will supply the chancellor, that is urgently needed."

Are you optimistic about the future of the Federal Republic?

"Yes. We are privileged here in Germany."

You don't say the CDU managed to do that, and that's why I vote for that party?

"The fact that I can live well here is partly due to the CDU. But you can't completely praise the CDU for that. We are no longer a developing country. But the CDU focuses entirely on economics. I find that debatable. There is more for a government to worry about.”



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