The foul-smelling pot of the CDU

The philosopher of Die Welt, Robin Alexander, once coined a legendary phrase about German social democracy. The CDU and the CSU stir up a pot of foul-smelling stuff – and then the SPD comes along and puts it on itself." For years, the statement described the reality of federal politics so aptly that TV presenter Markus Lanz quoted it three times a week.

In the meantime, the situation has changed dramatically, because the pot with the foul-smelling stuff has recently found the head of the CDU more and more often.

Let's just take the past 13 days. 13 days ago, the Christian Democrats introduced a law in the Thuringian state parliament to reduce the real estate transfer tax. The CDU also pushed it through, but only because, in addition to the FDP, the AfD also agreed unanimously. Such informal cooperation at least raised the question of how the CDU really feels about the AfD. Let's put it this way: for a party that does not want to give the impression that it is mainly preoccupied with its own problems, the episode was not too happy.

A few days later, the CDU leadership presented a new logo and a new party color. Motto: New logo, new luck. Things turned out differently. In any case, on the Slaptstick scale, the action received ten out of ten, full marks. Instead of the Berlin Reichstag, the dome of the presidential palace in Tbilisi adorned the accompanying image film. The (deliberately?) forgotten Angela Merkel had to be quickly edited into the film overnight after protests. Sebastian Kurz remarked smugly (and not without reason) that the new color had probably been stolen from him. And some associations defiantly announced that they would prefer to continue using the old logo.

And as soon as the excitement about the logo has subsided, the Christian Democrats from Thuringia are back in the spotlight. Soon they want to bring another law into the state parliament, in which the help of the AfD should be certain. This time it's not about a technical, financial matter, but about pure culture war. The so-called "Correct Language Act" is intended to prohibit gendering in Thuringian schools and administration. The vote will probably not take place until November, so there will be plenty of time to tear oneself apart.

Or to say it with Alexander: The next pot to put on is ready.

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Unity and justice and resentment

This afternoon, the Federal Government Commissioner for Eastern Europe, Carsten Schneider, will present the annual report on the state of German unity. Every two years, the government publishes a report to find out what true unity is like, i.e. how fairly opportunities, privileges, assets or jobs are distributed.

Last year, I accompanied Schneider to numerous appointments for a portrait. I would put it this way: it is not because of his commitment that the balance sheet of the latest management report is not too rosy again. Certain grievances cannot be changed in a short time, they have grown over decades.

When I was on the road with Schneider, one complaint in particular came to my ears again and again: that three decades after reunification, most leadership positions even in East Germany are still occupied by West Germans, in business, at the university, in the judiciary and administration, and also in journalism. I am convinced that this imbalance is one of the greatest sources of anger and injustice for many East Germans. And a major social divisive fungus.

"We have a West German elite recruitment," Schneider once aptly recounted. »Networks work unconsciously because people adjust to similarity.« He had experienced this first-hand. "If, like me, you had your lessons at the Augusto Cesar Sandino Polytechnic High School and had Russian as a foreign language, then it seems strange at first." According to Schneider, many decision-makers are looking for common ground. "We're just strangers to them."

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Peace in Times of »New Wars« – SPIEGEL Deep Dive with Herfried Münkler

Here's a quick note on our own behalf: An exciting digital event is taking place tonight. My colleague Eva Maria Schnurr talks to political scientist and author Herfried Münkler about the big question of our time: war and peace. If you want peace, you first have to understand war, they say. But what does war look like in the 21st century? Is it possible to solve the new wars in Ukraine with the same means as in the past? And if not, what can Germany, what can Europe do instead for a more peaceful world?

The event is free of charge for SPIEGEL subscribers. For everyone else, we are giving away ten free accesses. Interested parties write to:, Subject: Raffle SPIEGEL Deep Dive. Deadline: Today, 12 noon.

Spain? Oh woe.

It could be exciting today in Madrid. The lower house of the Spanish parliament votes on the candidacy of the former conservative opposition leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo for the office of prime minister. Feijóo's People's Party Partido Popular won the early parliamentary elections two months ago ahead of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's Socialists.

King Felipe VI then instructed Feijóo to form a government. But he didn't really succeed. Apart from the right-wing populist party Vox and possibly two smaller regional parties, no one wants to vote for him, too little for a majority capable of governing. Nevertheless, Feijóo wants to take a chance. In today's vote, he would need an absolute majority, in a possible second round on Friday only a simple majority, but he does not seem to get that either.

Next, Pedro Sánchez could be given the task of forming a government by the king. But the socialist would probably need the Catalan separatists for a majority. Among other things, they are calling for an amnesty for those who organised the illegal independence vote in 2017. And Sánchez is unlikely to concede that.

It is not unlikely that Spanish politics will continue to block itself for the time being – as has so often been the case in recent years. And that there will be another election in January.

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Click here for the current daily quiz

The starting question today: Who was confirmed as chairman of the SPD parliamentary group in the Bundestag at the beginning of September 2023?

Loser of the day...

... is the post-fascist in the office of the head of the Italian government, Giorgia Meloni. At least that's what my colleague, our Italy correspondent Frank Hornig, thinks.

In a personal letter to Scholz, Meloni has just made fierce accusations against the German government. Meloni said she was astonished to learn that the German government wants to financially support organizations that take care of boat migrants in Italy. Rome considers this to be interference in internal Italian affairs.

Meloni gives the impression that Italy is being left alone by Germany. The Federal Republic of Germany registers the most asylum applications in Europe, about three times as many as Italy. Rome obviously likes to let refugees move on to the north.

"The prime minister would be more credible if she based her policies in Italy on reality rather than propaganda," Hornig writes in the current SPIEGEL editorial. "If the state itself took care of integration, instead of leaving this work mainly to private initiatives that can only help selectively. If refugees were consistently informed about their rights – above all about the right to apply for asylum. If humane conditions prevailed in deportation centers throughout.« I fear that these will remain pious wishes – however correct they are.

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The latest news from the night

  • Trump committed financial fraud, according to a New York judge: According to a judge's decision, Donald Trump deliberately stated the value of his company too high in order to get loans more cheaply. The actual civil trial is scheduled to start next week.

  • More than 100 dead after fire at wedding celebration in Iraq: At least 114 people have died in a fire during a wedding in Iraq. There are also said to be hundreds of injured. Apparently, the hall was equipped with highly flammable material.

  • Forearm fracture – Gnabry out for weeks: FC Bayern Munich paid dearly for their mandatory victory in the cup at Preußen Münster: A forearm fracture has put Serge Gnabry out of action for a longer period of time. The attacker will also be missed by the national team for the time being.

The SPIEGEL+ recommendations for today

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  • A mountain village, resurrected as a ruin: An earthquake completely destroyed Bussana Vecchia in 1887. Later, hippies from half of Europe rebuilt the small town and never let themselves be expelled. Today, Jana Weiser is the last of the flower children on the Flower Coast.

  • How the Germans forgot how to cook: Vegan meat sausage, almond milk, veggie burgers: substitute products are booming. Here, historian Uwe Spiekermann explains why Germans still don't all become vegetarians and how they have lost an important skill.

Wishing you a happy Wednesday!

Yours, Markus Feldenkirchen, author at the SPIEGEL office in the capital