BERLIN, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- Friedrich Merz, one of the favored candidates to succeed Angela Merkel as Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader in Germany, ruled out any cooperation with the Alternative for Germany (AfD) under his prospective tenure on Wednesday.
Speaking during an interview with the newspaper BILD, Merz said that he considered the AfD to be an openly nationalist and partially anti-Semitic political movement which meant that it was "neither coalition-, nor conversation-suited."
While the far-right AfD was unlikely to disappear entirely from Germany's electoral landscape after having entered all of its 16 regional assemblies, the federal parliament (Bundestag) and European Union (EU) parliament, Merz expressed confidence that its voter share could be halved if the CDU won back disaffected former supporters. The AfD is currently polling between 13 and 16 percent in opinion surveys despite an ongoing illegal campaign finance scandal and constitutes the single largest opposition bloc in parliament.
Merkel has recently announced that she would not stand for re-election as CDU leader in December and would leave German politics entirely after her ongoing fourth term as chancellor. Alongside CDU secretary general Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and health minister Jens Spahn, the former finance industry executive Merz is widely seen as one of the three most promising candidates in the looming leadership race.
Merz told BILD on Wednesday that he did not want to distance himself from either acting party leader Merkel or his two likeliest co-contestants. He praised the chancellor's "humanitarian gesture" at the start of the 2015 refugee crisis and called for a new legal regime which recognized that Germany was a country of immigration.
At the same time, however, the CDU leadership candidate also expressed understanding for citizens who felt like policymakers had partially lost control of the situation after the initial influx of asylum seekers. "We have a Christian-Occidental community of values here and everyone who wants to stay in Germany must abide by these rules," the 63-year-old said.
To alleviate fears stemming from the refugee crisis, Merz said that it was now necessary for policymakers to "clearly prioritize" the subject of interior security. "The rule of law can only work when the monopoly of violence resides with the state- and no one else." Enditem