Daniel Gunther (CDU) was called a "youngster" or "eternal confirmand" by many media during the election campaign. After his surprise victory, there is no more talk of this. Wednesday he wants to become prime minister.
For a long time, the SPD had led in the polls. The fact that Daniel Gunther and his CDU ultimately won the Schleswig-Holstein state election was a surprise to many people. On Wednesday, the Catholic wants to be elected prime minister of Germany's northernmost state to lead a "Jamaica coalition" of CDU, Greens and FDP.
Together, the partners have 44 of 77 seats in the state parliament and thus a stable majority. However, "Jamaica coalitions" are considered unstable, as the only example so far in Saarland has shown, and as also became clear during the Kiel coalition negotiations:
Because the Greens and FDP could not agree on economic and transport policy, they almost came to a standstill. But now everything is back in perfect order, according to reports from the state capital.
The only professing Catholic
A few months ago, Gunther was still largely unknown. With diligence and a determined election campaign, he worked his way to the top of the country. The 43-year-old political scientist has a classic CDU career behind him, was district chairman of the Junge Union, and later local chairman. In 2009, he moved into the Schleswig-Holstein state parliament, where he took over as parliamentary group chairman in 2014. He has been CDU state chairman since 2016.
In Kiel's state parliament, Gunther has been the only professing Catholic so far. "Faith is insanely important to me, also in my political work," he once said during the election campaign. In his hometown, he regularly visits the Catholic church.
Commitment to the reference to God in the state constitution
In 2016, he accompanied outgoing Prime Minister Torsten Albig (SPD) on a visit to Pope Francis in Rome. Gunther spoke of a "unique experience" in which he had the picture of a church window from his home parish of Eckernforde blessed by Francis. Also in 2016, he spoke out in favor of including a reference to God in the Schleswig-Holstein state constitution. The plan failed, however, in the state parliament.
For the upcoming legislative period, he and his black-green-yellow alliance have already announced numerous changes – including in school policy. Thus, for the school year
2019/20 the return to the Abitur after nine years is planned. Before the changeover, however, individual high schools can decide once whether they want to stay with the turbo baccalaureate after eight years.
"Jamaica" also stands for better inclusion and relaxed Sunday opening hours
Jamaica also wants to improve on the topic of inclusion: According to the coalition agreement, 70 new special education teachers are to be hired each year until 2024 – a total of 490 new teachers. Existing support centers to be retained. On the labor market, the alliance wants to break new ground and discuss a citizen's income or basic income.
The announcement that Sunday opening hours will be made more flexible is already causing a stir. Unions have already sharply criticized the plan, and the churches are not likely to be pleased either.
With its commitment to "marriage for all," the coalition agreement contains a first: For the first time, a CDU-led state government explicitly supports equal rights for homosexual partnerships. Daniel Gunther had already come out as a supporter of gay marriage in May and obtained a corresponding party congress resolution from the northern CDU party. However, a decision in favor of "marriage for all" would have to be made at the federal level.
Confirmation image discarded
Even as opposition leader, Gunther never missed an opportunity to attack the SPD-led state government. In the election campaign, he once again demonstrated his rhetorical skills. As the future prime minister, he has the chance to put his money where his mouth is. During the election campaign, many media portrayed Gunther as a "youngling" or "eternal confirmand". In the meantime, this image no longer clings to the election winner, especially since a Catholic generally cannot be a confirmand anyway.