30th Mar 2020

Bavarian elections spell trouble for Merkel

  • The Bavarian elections spell trouble ahead for Angela Merkel (Photo: Blu News)

Angela Merkel's sister party, the CSU, has won regional elections in Bavaria, but her Liberal coalition partner failed to enter the local assembly in a bad omen for the Chancellor.

"For us it's an amazing election success, every second man and woman in Bavaria voted for us," the leader of the Christian-Social Union (CSU), Horst Seehofer, told cheering fans on Sunday (15 September) in Munich.

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With exit polls placing the CSU at 49 percent, Merkel's sister party will be able to govern alone in the regional parliament - a boost for the Bavarian Conservatives in coalition talks which are likely to follow the 22 September general elections.

Dubbed "Crazy Horst" for his populist campaign ideas, such as calling for a tax on foreign car drivers on Bavarian highways, Seehofer is an uncomfortable ally for Merkel.

In a TV debate with her socialist challenger, Peer Steinbrueck, Merkel earlier this month strongly rejected the idea of such a tax, which would infringe upon EU law.

But Seehofer is sticking to his guns.

"We shall not give up on the car tax, we shall push it through," he said on Sunday, adding that he always keeps his promises.

Referring to Merkel, he added: "She said herself that there is always a way to agree with the Bavarians, even in the most difficult questions, so this is also valid for the car tax."

Seehofer's strong victory at regional level is unmatched among members of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, who have lost several strongholds in regional elections in the past two years.

Following the result, Merkel cannot be sure that her preferred coalition partner - the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) - will make into the German Bundestag on Sunday.

With exit polls placing the FDP at only three percent in the Bavarian elections, Liberal leaders were quick in dismissing any comparison with the upcoming general elections.

"In Bavaria, clocks tick differently. Now it's about Germany and we will fight for every vote," Liberal leader and economy minister Philipp Roesler said on Sunday.

If the Liberals repeat the poor election result and do not make the 5 percent threshold for the Bundestag, Merkel will have to seek coalition talks with the opposition Steinbrueck's Social Democrats to form a grand coalition.

A poll published on Monday by German magazine Focus puts the FDP at only four percent in voters' preferences.

Merkel's Christian-Democrats are at 38 percent, while the Social Democrats are on 27 percent.

According to this poll, the Social Democrats and the Greens (11%) would together match the Christian-Democrats, a tight score which would make coalition talks unpredictable.

A remote possibility is also for the Social Democrats to try and form a minority government with support of the leftist Linke Party (8%), which is seen as a taboo in German politics because of the party's history in Communist East Germany.

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