German news journalists are reporting that the CSU....the sister party of the national CDU Party in Germany....is threatening to pull their three members of Chancellor Merkel's cabinet. The threat surrounds the refugee crisis at hand and is probably the first of several threats that the CSU might undertake.
For a non-German.....understanding the CSU fit into German politics is not simple. The CSU has been around for seventy-odd years in Bavaria, and is the conservative party of the region. There is this unwritten rule.....within Bavaria....the CSU exists, and outside of Bavaria....the CDU exists.
A true difference between the CDU and the CSU? Most Germans will say that the Bavarian side (the CSU) is a bit more conservative on social matters. There is more Catholic Church influence in Bavaria and it sharpens the political take on matters. Most Germans will also say that the CDU (the national folks)....are more proactive on economic matters than the Bavarian side (the CSU).
What all this means in elections? The Bavarian CSU Party brings roughly 3 million votes to any national election....sometimes more....sometimes less. In the 2013 national election....between both the CDU and CSU....they took almost 18.1 million votes (41.5 percent of the national vote). The SPD Party took 11.2 million votes (25 percent of the national vote).
In this high-stakes poker game....the CSU is being hit hard by Bavarians who are negative about the asylum-seeker and immigration issue. The general public in Bavaria want actions taken by the national government to limit entry and downsize the issue overall. Up until this past week....the CSU had not been able to get any real attention on the issue. So, this threat of leaving Merkel's cabinet is the first big step toward confrontation.
Can the Merkel govenrment survive without CSU participation? In the past, the CDU had just enough membership or partnership to survive, and nothing much extra. Since 2013, the arrangement has been a CDU/CSU/SPD 'team'. Without the CSU participation.....as long as the SPD agrees with the situation.....things will continue on.
There is this odd factor that could play into the whole mess.....should SPD's leadership...Sigmar Gabriel decide that there's some strong political options at the table now.....he might start to demand certain changes or suggest that the SPD might dissolve their partnership deal. At this point....either Merkel agrees, or the government has to call for new elections.
That's the odd factor to German politics. A collapse in the partnership could force elections at the national level to occur. For an American, it's something you wouldn't expect.
Would a national election forced onto the scene trigger massive changes? Here's the odd thing. The CDU, the SPD, the Linke Party, and the Green Party all been talking pro-immigration and pro-asylum for months. For the SPD's Sigmar Gabriel to suddenly push for an election or try to change the position of the party to appeal to national voters....it'd turn into a joke, and half the public would amused by the attitude change.
There is some belief that enough frustrated voters exist out in Germany.....that might be willing to vote AfD to send a negative message to Berlin and the various political parties. Before all this asylum business started....the newly created AfD Party might have been lucky to pick up around five-percent of the national vote. Presently? News journalists put them near eight-percent. With sudden election, public forums and strong position stakes....the AfD might be able to take somewhere in the range of fifteen-to-twenty percent of the national vote. Even the typical SPD voter might cross the line and want to send a frustration message back to Berlin.
If I were a betting man.....I'd say that the CSU will make the threat as an honest one, and might step outside of the partnership. But it simply isn't to anyone's advantage to create an atmosphere for a quick new national election.
A political soap opera? Well....yeah. If you thought that US politics were screwed up.....you might want to examine German politics, because it's just as interesting.