CDU leader's suggestion of cooperation with far-right party sparks debate in Germany

CDU leader's suggestion of cooperation with far-right party sparks debate in Germany

Recent polls show far-right AfD's support around 20 % - 22%, causing concern among politicians

BERLIN (AA) - Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader Friedrich Merz's comments about the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party sparked controversies Tuesday.

Merz suggested in a television program that cooperation with AfD could be possible at the municipal level -- leading to reactions from within his and other parties.

Merz later clarified that there would be no cooperation with AfD at any level, but the debates continued.

"AfD only knows opposition and division. Where should cooperation be here? CDU does not want and will not work with a party whose working style involves hate, division, and exclusion," CDU's Berlin State Premier Kai Wegner wrote to Twitter, expressing his disapproval.

"Be it at the local or federal level, the far-right will always remain far-right. For CDU, the far-right will always be the enemy," said CDU's Vice President of the Bundestag, Yvonne Magwas.

Markus Söder, the leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), which is CDU's sister party, emphasized he does not share Merz's view on cooperation with AfD at the local level, adding that the “CSU firmly rejects any collaboration with AfD at any level. Such cooperation would contradict our values."

Ricarda Lang, co-Chair of the Green Party, also expressed disapproval of Merz’s comments, and said it is" unacceptable for a traditional party like CDU to collaborate with the anti-democratic AfD."

Following the debates, there have been doubts about Merz becoming a candidate for Chancellor in the general elections, expected in two years.

"I personally cannot even imagine a CDU Chancellor who would create concerns in this regard," said Tobias Hans, the former State Premier of Saarland, implying his reluctance to see Merz as the candidate for Chancellor.

German media cited Merz's previous remarks calling Ukrainian refugees "social tourists," referring to Arab students as "little sultans," and saying that "CDU is the alternative for Germany" when compared to AfD, as statements that could jeopardize his candidacy for Chancellor.

Recent polls have shown the far-right AfD's support around 20% - 22%, causing concern among many politicians.

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