Interview questions on demonization in India

Interview: Wolfgang Bosbach: "We shouldn't demonize the AfD"

Mr. Bosbach, where is the CDU heading? To the left, in the middle or at some point to the right?

Bosbach: I hope she stays on course. We do not need a shift to the left or to the right, but a course in the middle. We traditionally have a Christian-social root, a liberal and also a conservative one. The Union has always been strong when it has nurtured these roots in the same way. We should not believe that the value conservatives in our country would choose the Union anyway for lack of an acceptable political alternative. That's not true for a long time.

Why is that? Just about the refugee crisis? Or to Angela Merkel?

Bosbach: The refugee crisis is currently the greatest domestic and socio-political challenge, which has been causing heated and sometimes very controversial debates for months. But I can also make this clear at another point, namely in relation to European policy and the rescue efforts for Greece. I can still remember that it was precisely the Union that promised its citizens when the euro was introduced that it was only about a monetary union, not a liability or transfer union. Unfortunately, the development was different. I always get very restless when the word "no alternative" is used. There are always alternatives. The only question is which political alternative is the better.

"I have great understanding for the attitude of the CSU in the refugee crisis"

Does that mean that Merkel looks too much at the liberal camp and too little at the conservative camp?

Bosbach: I can understand that a party always aims to attract new groups of voters. I'm happy to be there. But we have to be careful not to irritate or even lose two regular voters when looking for a new left-wing voter. There have been a number of policy changes over the past few years for which there have been good arguments. But the internal party discussion only began afterwards. Examples are the energy transition or the abolition of compulsory military service. There were good reasons for this, but the change of course came as a surprise to many in the party.

What do you think of the threat by the CSU because of Merkel's refugee policy to lead the federal election campaign separately without the CDU?

Bosbach: In terms of political content, I have a great deal of understanding for the position of the CSU in the refugee crisis. But why do we start a debate in the Union now, a year and a half before the next federal election, as to whether we will run with a common election manifesto or with two different ones? I do not understand that. With all understanding for the independence of the CSU - I would like to call out to Horst Seehofer: Dear Horst, the political competition of the CSU is not the CDU, but the SPD, Greens, AfD.

Do you expect the AfD to establish itself in the party landscape?

Bosbach: I am not one of those who believe that the AfD issue will be completely resolved sooner or later. That is why I advise neither ignoring nor demonizing the party and not insulting its voters. None of this has any success. We have to ask ourselves critically, also self-critically, why this party was able to achieve remarkable electoral successes in such a short time and with what motives people go to the AfD and what hopes they have when they make their mark there.

"The Union will not stand against Islam, but against Islamism"

How dangerous do you think the AfD is as a reservoir on the right of the Union?

Bosbach: The word reservoir is a perfect match. We have a mixed bag of members in the AfD. You have members who come from the bourgeois spectrum, who meet right-wing extremists there, from a completely different political milieu, which I would not call bourgeois. The AfD must first find its way and know what it actually wants to be. Voters will quickly realize that it is not enough to just put your finger in the wound.

What does that mean for the Union?

Bosbach: We don't just name problems, we work out solutions. Now that the refugee crisis is no longer as important as it was six months ago, the AfD is now trying to address the issue of Islam. The Union, on the other hand, will not compete against Islam, but against Islamism, Salafism and Wahabism, i.e. against the radical currents, against the political arm of Islam. This is a completely different position than the AfD takes. Over four million Muslims live in Germany. Most of them are peaceful and lawful and strive for integration. If we exclude them, then the social problems will get bigger and not smaller.

So does Islam belong to Germany? What do you think of this debate?

Bosbach: I cannot sign this sentence. It is a historical fact that Germany has never belonged to the Islamic culture. We have a Christian-Jewish tradition, not an Islamic one. By the way: What is meant by “Islam”? Is Islamism also meant? Salafism, Wahabism? Does this also mean Sharia? Certainly not, and therefore I cannot say that it all belongs to us, is part of our national identity. But the more than four million Muslims, some of whom have lived with us for decades, are part of our society, they belong to us.

Wolfang Bosbach: We are making ourselves dependent on Turkey

The number of refugees is falling noticeably, as the Chancellor promised. Are you behind the controversial pact with Turkey?

Bosbach: First of all, the number of refugees is not falling because of the agreement with Turkey, but because of the closure of the Balkan route. If the Balkan route were open again tomorrow, we would certainly have a significant increase in the number of refugees immediately, even if the agreement with Turkey remained. I am very critical of this agreement. The reason is that we are making ourselves politically dependent on Turkey.

You are constantly on the move, your schedule is full. But you are also suffering from cancer. How long do you want to do this mammoth program?

Bosbach: Nobody has to carry me out of the plenary hall with their feet in front. I know when it's over. But I don't want to make a decision about how things will continue until the summer. That has been agreed with my CDU district association. What has given me the strength in recent years has been the incredible trust at home in the constituency: I received 58.5 percent of the first votes in the last federal election, the CDU 44.

The 63-year-old Wolfgang Bosbach is one of the most famous politicians in Germany. Last summer he gave up his long-term post as chairman of the Bundestag interior committee in protest against the Greek rescue policy.