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It's just Hamburg, you try it in the CDU convince. And of course it's true: how a city-state chooses is by no means representative of the mood in the country. But it is not true either. Because if the Hanseatic city decides on its new citizenship at the end of February, it will be the only federal state in which 2020 will be elected. A defeat naturally sets the tone for the whole year.

In this respect, it is no coincidence that the CDU board has moved its opening exam to the International Maritime Museum in the Speicherstadt: Show support again, show journalists the largely unknown top candidate. Although there are few illusions in the Berlin party headquarters: Whoever will rule on the Alster in the future will make up the SPD and the Greens. The CDU is not only threatened with defeat – one has got used to it since Ole von Beust gave up in 2010. No, the CDU is on the verge of drowning: 13 percent and 15 percent in the polls.

Sure, the CDU was never a big city party, in Hamburg it was always difficult. And then there was also bad luck: The intended candidate, an absolute hope, Aygül Özkan, fell seriously ill. Instead, Altonaer Bundestag member Marcus Weinberg is now leading the Christian Democrats into an unlikely election campaign. If the result is really closer to ten than to 20 percent, it will be a very troubled start to the new decade for the CDU. "It depends on the mix," says Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer when asked about the election goals in Hamburg. That means: The CDU does not even play around the town hall. At best it will be the role of the junior partner.

The CDU's longing for orientation shows how the party is reeling

Of course, the CDU leadership also came to Hamburg to work. The first thing on Friday night was foreign policy. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was visiting. Then a US policy professor made a presentation on what to expect from Donald Trump. Saturday was part of the content: at the end of the year, a new program of principles should be available at the party congress. It was pushed by Kramp-Karrenbauer when she was still general secretary. It should be their journeyman's piece and prepare them for party chairmanship and chancellor candidacy. As is well known, things turned out differently.

The CDU board put their heads together in five working groups and brooded over chapters, weighting and the general thrust of the new program. What is clear so far: It should not be a stubborn 120-page tome, but rather short and crisp. In terms of content, it should balance the tension between freedom and responsibility.

But as is the case when you start looking for your own roots: current shortcomings and omissions are all the more painfully visible. In the case of the CDU, the longing for a new orientation shows how much the party is currently tumbling.

As far as Hamburg, the CDU is pursuing the question of how it intends to keep up with the Left Party. Even three months after the election in Thuringia, she has no clear answer. The federal and state leaders have been playing ping pong ever since: directly after the election, country chief Mike Mohring was only open to discussions. After protests from the Adenauer House, he specified: Talks with the Prime Minister, not with the Left Party itself. Several volts later the idea of ​​a project government, that is to say a coalition without a coalition agreement, came up. The CDU might even have been able to appoint ministers. Berlin grumbled. The dogma "No cooperation with the left" is interpreted much more strictly at the top of the federal government.

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