German Christian Democrats want 'Values Union' member out of party


Central Europe


Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party candidate for German President Max Otte looks on during a press statement in Berlin, Germany, 25 January 2022. AfD nominated Max Otte for the German President candidacy. The election of the German President will be held on 13 February 2022. Photo EPA, Filip Singer

The federal executive committee of the Christian Democratic CDU party in Germany has temporarily expelled Max Otte from the party. The reason is the nomination of Otte for the office of Federal President by the right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Economist, publicist and political activist Otte is not only a fundraiser for the CDU but also the chairman of the so-called Werte Union (Values Union), a grouping of conservative Christian Democrats. At least he was until today. Wednesday, it was announced that, for the time being, he is retiring from his post.

According to its own information, the Werte Union has around 4,000 members. Though it represents the conservative current in the CDU/CSU, it is not an official party branch.

Internal critics of the CDU have long accused Otte of moving the Werte Union to the right and opening it up to the AfD. Otte had announced in an interview in 2017 that he wanted to vote for the AfD in the German parliamentary elections on 26 September last year – also because of the course taken by former Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU). The fund manager had been chairman of the board of trustees of the AfD-affiliated Desiderius Erasmus Foundation until January 2021.


On Monday, the AfD nominated Otte for the post of Federal President of Germany. On Tuesday, he accepted the nomination despite warnings from his own party, the German news medium tagesschau reports. The Christian Democrat sees the nomination as a great honour, he said during the presentation before the AfD parliamentary group meeting. "I don't see it as a provocation. I am serious about it."

Yesterday, the CDU federal executive temporarily expelled Otte from the party, German news channel Deutschlandfunk wrote. After a special meeting, the still acting CDU secretary-general Ziemiak said that Otte had seriously damaged the party. The CDU and CSU had jointly agreed to support a second term in office for the incumbent Federal President Steinmeier. Otte had disregarded this with his candidacy and violated the party's principle of not cooperating in any form with the AfD.

Previously, the Cologne district association, to which Otte belongs, announced that it would initiate party expulsion proceedings.


Otte has rejected calls for him to leave the party. He sees the AfD "clearly on the ground of the Constitution", he told Der Spiegel. Therefore, "a CDU expulsion procedure against me would be not only incomprehensible but also incompatible with democratic principles". The CDU's warnings had "played no role" in his decision-making. Otte signalled that he would take his chances in party order proceedings. "I will not leave the CDU voluntarily," he said.



Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.