One of the main contenders for the German Christian Democrat leadership race said he feared that the party’s planned online election could fall victim to hackers and spies seeking to influence the results of a poll that will help determine the country’s post-war direction. Merkel era.
Friedrich merz, a corporate lawyer and former chairman of BlackRock Germany, said the CDU must ensure the integrity of the election, which is expected to be held online for the first time in party history due to coronavirus restrictions during gatherings.
“Every hacker group in the world, as well as every intelligence agency in the world, could win the biggest trophy of 2021 if they succeed in manipulating the CDU party conference and the election of the new president,” he said. he told reporters.
Whoever wins the competition is generally expected to be the Christian Democrats’ candidate for chancellor in next September’s elections. With nine months to go, the CDU leads the polls.
The CDU had planned to elect a new leader at a party conference in April this year but had to postpone it due to the pandemic. The meeting was originally postponed to December, but has now been postponed to mid-January.
Mr. Merz is one of three candidates running for the party. The others are Armin Laschet, Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, and Norbert Röttgen, Chairman of the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
A popular conservative with the grassroots CDU, Merz reacted angrily to the decision to move the party conference from December, saying it was part of a CDU establishment plot to foil his candidacy for leadership. He said party greats felt that the longer the conference was delayed, the better Mr Laschet’s chances of winning.
Most CDU member polls put Mr Merz in the lead, along with Mr Laschet, an ideological ally of Merkel, who lags badly.
Mr Merz is a former political rival of Merkel, who ousted him as leader of the CDU parliamentary group in 2002. Over the years he has openly criticized his efforts to move the CDU to the political center.
He said the CDU executive was considering combining an online election with a postal vote, in which delegates would note their preference on a traditional ballot paper and send it to CDU headquarters.
Such an elaborate procedure was necessary because Germany’s law on political parties did not exclusively allow online leadership elections, he said.
But the security risks of a digital election were severe, providing “an invitation not only to the Hamburg Chaos IT club, but to many others.” . . to see if they can hack it, ”he said.
“If you see what attacks we have on the data network in Germany every day, the German Bundestag hack, of chancellor’s cell phone – it’s a real threat, ”he said.
However, he added, steps were being taken to ensure that the election was not compromised. “We have the technical possibilities, both hardware and software, to protect it.”