Home Tech German CDU chief under fire for comments about campaigning on YouTube

German CDU chief under fire for comments about campaigning on YouTube


BERLIN — The head of Germanys center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) — and Angela Merkels favored successor as German chancellor — is under fire for suggesting a debate about rules for how “opinion is manufactured” online.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, or AKK as shes known in her home country, made the comments in response to a video released ahead of last weekends European Parliament election, in which over 70 YouTube celebrities asked viewers to boycott Germanys governing parties, including the CDU, because of their climate policy.

“AKKs statement … is an unprecedented attack on freedom of speech,” the chief whip of the far-left Die Linke party in the Bundestag, Niema Movassat, wrote on Twitter.

“You can only hope that this is rooted in helplessness and not in political conviction,” Bundestag Vice President Claudia Roth of the Green Party said, speaking to DPA news agency.

The Germany director of NGO Human Rights Watch described AKKs pitch as a “demand for online censorship [that] is devious and reminiscent of autocrats like [Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor] Orbán or [Russian President Vladimir] Putin.”

Facing a mounting backlash, Kramp-Karrenbauer shot back at critics Monday evening, tweeting that it is “absurd to accuse me of wanting to regulate the expression of opinion,” while defending her comments as a necessary call to debate political campaigning in the age of the Internet.

“Freedom of speech is a precious commodity in democracy,” she wrote. “But what we need to discuss are rules for campaigning.”

But even officials from her own party have begun to distance themselves from the remarks.

“Freedom of opinion cannot be regulated,” Mike Mohring, the CDUs regional party leader in the state of Thuringia, said Monday evening on public broadcaster ARD.

Asymmetrical campaigning

Kramp-Karrenbauers CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, received about 29 percent of the German vote during Sundays election — more than 7 percentage points less than their 2014 result.

Whats more, they performed particularly poorly among young voters, with just 13 percent of Germans under 30 voting for the conservative bloc.

Ahead of the vote, a YouTube video — in which vlogger Rezo accused Merkels governing coalition of destroying the planet for future generations — had ignited a fiery debate.

In the 55-minute video published eight days before the vote, Rezo accused Merkels and AKKs conservatives of failing to tackle issues such as climate change and econoRead More – Source