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Thread: Significant Outcome of Bavarian Election?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Carl's Avatar
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    Significant Outcome of Bavarian Election?

    Bavaria's election

    Oktoberfuss
    Oct 2nd 2008 MUNICH


    The Economist

    A disastrous showing for Bavaria’s ruling Christian Social Union

    WHEN Günther Beckstein, Bavaria’s premier, helped open this year’s Oktoberfest—the biggest folk festival in the world, boast Bavarians—on September 20th, he hoped its popularity would rub off on his party, the Christian Social Union (CSU). In vain.

    In Bavaria’s election eight days later, the CSU lost its absolute majority for the first time in 46 years. It now needs a coalition partner to stay in power. To Bavarians, the end of one-party rule feels like a revolution. To the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, it is a worrying omen for the federal election due next September. And to all of Germany’s big political parties, the results seem proof that they are in deep trouble.

    Bavaria has Germany’s lowest unemployment, one of its fastest-growing economies and its lowest debt per head. Clinging to Catholic and folk traditions but revelling in progress, Bavarians have fashioned a regional identity stronger than any other in Germany. For decades they looked to the CSU to champion their interests. In other states Ms Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) speaks for mainstream conservatives; in Bavaria it is the CSU.

    But a long period in power breeds arrogance. Edmund Stoiber, who led the CSU to a two-thirds majority in 2003, got bureaucrats to work longer hours and students to cram nine years of education into eight without enough planning. His ousting in 2007 by Mr Beckstein, the state’s interior minister, and Erwin Huber, who became party chairman, subtracted charisma without adding competence. The ageing conspirators enraged innkeepers by implementing Germany’s toughest smoking ban, and everybody else when the state-owned Bayerische LB said it would lose over €1 billion ($1.4 billion) in subprime punts. “I have no trust in Beckstein and Huber,” says Bernhard, a technology consultant sporting Bavarian Lederhosen.

    On September 30th Mr Huber was forced out as party chairman, to be replaced by Horst Seehofer, the federal agriculture minister. Mr Beckstein quit a day later. Yet even these beheadings do not portend a real revolution. Voters who turned against the CSU turned towards their ideological kin. The Freie Wähler, a haven for CSU rebels, took a tenth of the vote and got into the legislature.

    The CSU would have a hard time governing with such a “club of individualists”, says Heinrich Oberreuter of the Academy for Political Education in Tutzing. Its likeliest partner is the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), which re-entered the legislature after a 14-year absence. Bavaria’s pro-business policy will continue, though the FDP is more likely to protect civil liberties than the CSU.

    Strikingly, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the main opposition force in Bavaria but partner of the CDU/CSU in Germany’s “grand coalition” government, did not profit from the CSU’s woes. Its 18.6% share of the vote was its worst ever. There is no sign that its countrywide erosion has stopped. Besides the FDP and the Freie Wähler, the Greens were the other big winners.

    A demoralised CSU will make life harder for the grand coalition. The Bavarians resent Ms Merkel for squelching tax-cut proposals with which they hoped to stave off electoral disaster. When the government’s plans clash with the interests of their voters, as they may over reform of inheritance tax, the CSU will oppose them. The grand coalition may also soon lose its majority in the upper-house Bundesrat.

    Ms Merkel needs Bavarian votes to win re-election, but she should not despair. The Freie Wähler have no national presence and the FDP is a potential ally, so she could keep many of the votes the CSU lost. As for the CSU, its “aura of invincibility is gone,” says Mr Oberreuter. Newcomers drawn to Bavaria by its economic success are more likely to programme laptops than wear leather shorts.


    ((---- so the SPD didnt make much progress here -- but elsewhere perhaps ? ))

    ==================


    Bavaria premier quits as CSU teeters following election 'rout'

    Bavaria's humiliated ruling party completed a clear-out of its top ranks yesterday as the provincial premier tendered his resignation following the departure of its leader and secretary general.

    Telegraph 01 Oct 2008

    Three days after the Christian Social Union (CSU) lost its absolute majority for the first time in almost half a century, Bavarian premier Geunther Beckstein quit, acknowledging he had lost the support of the party's grassroots. The party leader, Erwin Huber and its top woman, Christine Haderthauer had already stepped down after the CSU share of the vote slumped to 43 per cent in Sunday's election.

    Mr Beckstein, 64, who was the first Protestant to run Catholic Bavaria, was widely seen as out of step with the ethos of the prosperous Alpine state, harming the CSU's campaign by warning middle-class voters they would have to "bite into the sour apple" of harsh economic times. There was also a backlash after Mr Beckstein's wife refused to wear the traditional dirndl during the Octoberfest celebrations.

    The party leadership acknowledged that attempts to reform the party by promoting younger members and women had compounded the scale of the comparative "rout" it suffered. The CSU had prospered as the embodiment of the Bavarian model of post-war German stability and prosperity. Its leaders, notably Franz Josef Strauss who was premier from 1966 to 1988, were unassailable within Bavaria and fixtures on the national scene.

    In coalition with the Christian Democrat Union, the CSU has alternated in the national government with parties of the left.

    The CSU has embraced a traditionalist political bruiser, federal cabinet minister Horst Seehofer to revive its fortunes. Mr Seehofer was narrowly defeated in a leadership contest last year after it was revealed that he had fathered a child with a mistress. Despite this background, Mr Seehofer is likely to return the party to its familiar agenda of fiscal responsibility and strict social policies.

    It is an approach that Bavarian voters would probably have embraced but the party's rapid reforms were too much to bear when the state had been rocked by a 4.3 billion euro hole in the finances of the state bank.

    But the state that combines Germany's most advanced industries with a deep passion for beer and sausages is no longer a calcified political monolith. Mr Seehofer said he would put as much emphasis on ecology and consumer protection as his left-wing rivals.

    =============

    So is this indicative of a wider revolt within Germany? Could the SPD nationally make yet another comeback ? HGow would the FDP respond nationally ?

  2. #2
    Schimmelreiter
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    The FDP election goal was to enter a coalition government with the CSU. They are first and foremost economic liberals and a harmonious combination in this regard. Civil liberties are also part of their world view, but they usually don't care much about that in practical terms, with a few exceptions. The Chairwoman of the Bavarian FDP, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, is a former Federal Minister of Justice and a vocal opponent of wire tapping and data retention laws.

    The SPD is dreaming of using this 'opportunity' to form a non-CSU government, but the FDP won't be part of a FW-tolerated SPD/GREEN/FDP coalition. It might be a small bargaining chip against the CSU, but they have dibs on building a coalition since they are the election winners, by far.

    This election has "we don't like what the CSU has become, but the others are much worse" written all over it. 11,6% gains for FDP and FW are essentially meaningless and mostly meant to deny the CSU. The Greens have gained only slightly (+1,7%), Die Linke (+4,3%), no seats, probably siphoned off all potential gains for the SPD (-1,0%).

    The right-wing camp:

    Party / Candidate Votes / Party List Votes / Total Votes / Vote Percentage / Change
    REP 74.759 71.192 145.951 1,4% −0,9 %
    NPD 63.352 59.921 123.273 1,2% +1,2 %

    On a national level, this does not necessarily shift power within the CDU/CSU faction. The CSU had good election results in the federal elections that determined their seats. It might be more difficult to push through CSU positions for the coming federal election campaign, though. Another change is that Bavaria does no longer have an undivided voice in the federal council and the FDP can use this to force an abstention. In fact, the FDP is now able to void all votes of the four largest Länder, although the practical consequences of this are limited.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Carl's Avatar
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    Thanks for the detail. My view was always that the FDP were essentially a liberal & "in the middle" party which could always go either way. But as you say, they don't really want to be socialists! The extreme left must certainly detract from the SPD --- so that's good surely?? What I mean is : would the SPD return be necessarily seen as a bad thing by "patriots".

    As for the nationalists/Republicans - these are always a fringe presence ( although somewhat more in the east) ... we know the general problem! But times are getting tougher ; the economic downturn throughout Europe may well now throw up some interesting new internal tensions.

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    The FDP even tried some anti-socialist posturing against Die Linke, but they have also made slight concessions to larger political shifts by recognizing that a society does not purely consist of a series of contract obligations. The minarchists must have been foaming!

    Anyway, I don't consider the SPD a problem. It is conveniently split between itself and the Left party and not going to rebound anytime soon. What's missing now is a similar situation on the right end of the spectrum that effectively ends both "big tent" parties and forces broad centrist coalitions, which can only lead to further dissatisfaction.

    I actually prefer the SPD over the CDU. It is often led by its right wing, who have a strong national consciousness (although not in an ethnic sense) and anti-marxist sentiments. The CDU has always produced chancellors who saw themselves as viceregents of the allied powers. This creature for example:



    Sie sind der Kanzler der Alliierten!


    Kurt Schumacher is a good example for a social democrat with strong German nationalist sentiments. Another is Gerhard Schröder and his foreign policy 2002-2005. An election poster from Schumacher's era:


    Divided into three parts? Never!

    And a somewhat longer video with speech excerpts:

    Kurt Schumacher - Sozialdemokrat und Patriot
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Carl's Avatar
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    OK thanks. agreed generally -except that Adenhauer (sp?) was after all in the soviet era ..... not sure I would have wanted that coming westwards! ..... although I suspect that some Nationalists over there would prefer something like it..... But I know the three times divided . Now its only two .... and the poster is set aside......

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