Published: Wed, October 17, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Bavarian Exit Polls Show Germany’s CSU Losing Its Absolute Majority

Bavarian Exit Polls Show Germany’s CSU Losing Its Absolute Majority

Horst Seehofer, who faced criticism within the government and the Union (as the CDU/CSU coalition is colloquially known) as well as in his home region Bavaria for his tough stance on migration policy, has been cautious about commenting on what prompted such a result.

And so the CSU, a party that used to be nearly synonymous with the "white-blue" state it governs and that had won absolute majorities for much of postwar history, eked out a measly 37 percent. It was its worst result since 1950. The party more than doubled its share of the vote from the last regional elections, back in 2013.

It remains to be seen whether and how the Bavarian result will affect the national government's stability or Merkel's long-term future. "Thirty-three percent for the CSU and 10 percent for the [Social Democrats]". The SPD had been unable to "liberate itself from the political disputes between CDU and CSU".

The Bavarian election was widely seen as a referendum on Ms. Merkel's leadership and policies, especially around immigration. However, if the CDU and the SPD experience another drubbing, all bets are off on the grand coalition surviving.

For the past year, the battleground has been shifting to the Right and it has been the AfD who have drivem the agenda. When thousands of neo-Nazis marched through the city of Chemnitz at the end of August, chasing migrants and leftists and attacking a Jewish restaurant, both Maassen and Seehofer expressed solidarity with the right-wing mob.

The far right was quick to make the connection. "Normal people just haven't been loud enough", one Bavarian voter told The Washington Post.

Mr Seehofer's conservative party received 37.2% of the vote, down from 47.7% five years ago. In addition, about 120,000 former non-voters gave their votes to the Greens this time round. The party came fifth place on 9.5%, far behind the Greens and below the far-right AfD. But that is an illusion. The country's far-right and anti-immigration A-F-D party has also managed to enter the regional assembly. Wherever the Greens are involved in government they back police-state measures and the brutal deportation of refugees. "Above all, we have an election in Hesse in two weeks in which we are now investing all our power".

The CDU has accused CSU members of pandering to far-right sentiments to prevent losing supporters to the anti-migrant AfD, in publicised infighting that has tarnished the image of the two parties.

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The SPD were hoping for a boost from infighting between the CSU and the Christian Democrat (CDU) coalition partners. A preferable option for the CSU would be a coalition with regional protest party the Free Voters, who won 11.6% of the vote.

Bavaria appears to have followed electoral trends in other parts of Europe. FW chairman Hubert Aiwanger announced he would "put feasible proposals on Söder's table". Therefore: "clear the way for new elections". "Everything under 40 percent is awful for the CSU", and added that the party needed to focus on why it had lost support in major cities.

But it wasn't just a hard evening for the center-left SPD.

The outcome could impact Merkel's cabinet, depending how much of the blame gets heaped on Seehofer - either because he could resign, or because he could become more radical.

"It is obvious that the whole style of our cooperation must change", she told reporters.

"I can not believe this Bavarian pol with his provincial mindset, populist style, and boundless ego, has not yet resigned as boss of the Christian Social Union after last night's drubbing in the Bavarian election", Kluth wrote on October 15.

This is no reason for complacency, however.

He added, according to Reuters, "I am happy that the AfD in Bavaria scored clearly below where they are on the national level".

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