Equal, my ass: man, oh man

Hamburg’s CDU men love women so much that they don’t want them to hold stressful offices. Especially not well-paid seats in the Bundestag.

One of four men on the top four lists: Christoph de Vries after his election to list position 3. Photo: dpa

A defeat can be a victory. Although Hamburg’s female Christian Democrats were unable to prevail in the nomination of candidates for the Bundestag at the party convention on Thursday evening, their open revolt at this convention in the Wilhelmsburg community center is likely to go down in the annals of the Hanseatic CDU as historic.

It was the last rearguard action of the black men, who all argumentatively gave a picture of misery. "I love women, yes," confessed Karl-Heinz Warnholz, the 72-year-old chairman of the Wandsbek CDU district and party right-winger, "but I vote for the man."

Twelve candidates for the 2017 Bundestag elections comprised the list of nominees of the "Committee of 17," a kind of extended party executive committee, including five women in the back places. Only men were nominated for the promising first four places, and then only with Herlind Gundelach, a current member of the Bundestag who had run for third place four years ago. Her demotion in favor of two male newcomers, Christoph de Vries and Christoph Plob, had triggered the debate that had been going on for weeks about the CDU’s image of women in the 21st century.

"An earthquake" the chairwoman of the Women’s Union, Marita Meyer-Kainer, had then threatened the executive committee, and the community center did indeed shake in an argument that lasted more than an hour, was loud and not lacking in insults. The low point: When Gundelach began her speech on her candidacy for third place, a grinning Christian Democrat on the back benches loudly popped the top of his beer bottle.

"This list of candidates is a blow to women in the party," Meyer-Kainer stated, and also a violation of the CDU’s federal statutes. These provide for a quorum of one third: Every third place should be filled with a woman – but does not necessarily have to, which is why the "17 Committee," dominated by 15 men, had not done so. "I didn’t do a very good job of taking women into account," admitted faithfully its boss, 70-year-old former member of parliament Hans-Detlef Roock.

"We’re undercutting our minimum standards," raged parliamentary group vice chairwoman Karin Prien, "we can’t present ourselves like that in the 21st century." But that’s precisely what party leader Roland Heintze sees differently. "The public debate didn’t get us anywhere," he found, "it damaged the party." Which made his deputy on the state executive board, Birgit Stover, abandon all restraint: "It is damaging to the party, dear Roland, to exclude women," she dismissed her chairman, and made it clear: "Women who believe they can only convince with quality are on the wrong track in this CDU."

In the short term, the revolt was in vain. Gundelach lost the fight candidacy against de Vries with 54 to 85 votes and found herself in the end on the fifth place originally intended for her. This would only be enough for a renewed mandate if the CDU performs significantly better in Hamburg in 2017 than it did four years ago with 32.1 percent. But there are no signs of that at the moment. Plob achieved the fourth place on the list. At the top are the two veteran top dogs Marcus Weinberg and Rudiger Kruse.

And at the head of the party is a clearly weakened leader Roland Heintze, who neither wanted nor was able to stop the men’s march through: The future looks different.

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