Saturday, September 12, 2015

The CSU Story

There are several events which occurred yesterday which might have serious impact on German politics in the near future.

The former German Interior Minister....Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU)....did an interview with a Bavarian newspaper.  He used the words "blunder", "long-term consequences" and "lost control" in describing the effect of the current German government.  He blamed the Berlin leadership for failing to recognize the threat....potential Islamic sleepers within this large refugee crowd....who might threaten the security of Germany.

As quickly as the comments got into the public....both the CDU and SPD folks out of Berlin were quick to criticize Friedrich, along with various news media journalists.

One should note that Friedrich was fired by Chancellor Merkel roughly two years ago.  The circumstance?  He knew of an investigation into a kid-porn situation with a SPD political figure, and briefed the SPD leadership.  When this got out....the news media quickly jumped on this, and the Chancellor felt that a right to privacy had been done wrong by his actions.

Oddly, another CSU member....the Bavarian Finance Minister (Markus Soder) also did an interview with a Bavarian newspaper....also criticizing the Berlin leadership over the crisis.

Then the big event occurred.....the Prime Minister of Bavarian....Horst Seehofer (CSU) announced on Friday that he'd invited the head of state for Hungary to visit this weekend in Bavaria and discuss the crisis.  Hungary and Bavaria border each other and there's some feeling that they share the same anxiety.

This Seehofer-Orbin event promises to end with some joint statement.   It might be curious what is agreed upon and how it might be a thorn in the side of the current CDU-CSU-SPD government.

Here's the thing....the current government comes from the 2013 election. It's difficult for Americans to grasp how this all fits.  So I'll try to make it simple.

There are two right-wing-leaning parties in Germany.  The CDU works primarily out of fifteen German states.  The CSU works strictly out of Bavaria.  They are considered sister parties and have been such for fifty-odd years.  There's a unwritten rule that the CDU doesn't organize in Bavaria and the CSU doesn't organize beyond the borders of Bavaria.  They each have a political head.

So, when elections occur....they normally walk in the front-door together.  In 2013....the CDU pulled 37-percent of the national vote, and the CSU pulled 8-percent of the national vote (all from Bavaria).

If you asked what the difference was between the two....Germans would say there's little difference.  In truth though....the CSU of Bavaria have a deeper convictions to leaning right than the national CDU folks.  So in regional's seen that way in Bavaria.  When the CSU joins up with the CDU in national politics....their policies are diluted in some minor ways....but they get to run a cabinet post or two, because they are part of the majority team (as is the SPD).

I think what the CSU is laying down on the table is a trump card.  While the German state-run TV news crowd has tried say the negativity over refugees is mostly from eastern Germany....I suspect if you walked around Bavaria....more than fifty percent of the public there questions the positive nature of this crisis, and doesn't believe this will go well in the end.  The CSU has grasped the political play, and are going to intimidate the Berlin crowd.

Seehofer and Orbin could end up with some actions, which get Berlin upset....with Seehofer forced into meeting Merkel and being told to stay near the current strategy.  Seehofer might sense a different strategy and say the CSU is prepared to leave the cabinet and the Merkel coalition.  It's not a big deal because Merkel has the SPD within the group and she's got the majority to run the government.

But there's this odd factor.....there's three state elections in March of 2016.  The states of Sachsen-Anhalt, Baden-Wurttemberg, and the Pfalz all have elections on the same day.  What would be odd is if the CSU went with an opposition to Chancellor Merkel, and decided that they would register in the three states, and run the CSU-Party apparatus in the three state elections.....standing up one single party which had opposition to the current refugee situation.

It would be difficult to predict how the public would react in the three states (two in the west and one in the east).  Would the CSU subtract votes from the CDU?  Would some SPD members vote for the CSU in this one election to just send a message?  These are virtual unknowns.  Other than the AfD other political party has suggested opposition to the current strategy.

This weekend Seehofer/Orbin meeting might have more implications than people think.

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