‘New start’ for conservative alliance in EU elections

BERLIN: Germany’s conservative alliance of Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) said they have set aside their long-standing differences and presented a common front on Monday ahead of EU parliamentary elections in May.
“The most important message today is that we couldn’t have imagined a harmonious event like this five years ago,” Markus Soeder, head of the Bavarian CSU, a sister party to the pan-German CDU, said ahead of a meeting of party leaders in Berlin.
The conservative alliance has been at odds for years, particularly over immigration policy amid the arrival of more than 1 million refugees in Germany over 2015 and 2016, with many coming across the Austrian border into Bavaria.
Soeder said much had changed in Europe over the past five years, but he also suggested the new found harmony was due to Anne Kramp-Karrenbauer taking over the CDU party’s leadership from Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has promised to step down at the end of her current term.
Developments in the CDU had “made a new common approach possible,” Soeder said yesterday.
The two parties will sign-off later on Monday on a common platform for the European Parliament elections on May 26, presenting themselves as a foil against populists on the left and right of the political spectrum.
Soeder said compromises on important questions surrounding domestic security and EU policy had led to the breakthrough.
In that sense,the EU election programme also served as “a new start for the common work of CDU and CSU,” he said. — dpa