The day after Bavaria's election result

Sergio Conner
October 18, 2018

The Christian Social Union, or CSU - the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's conservative Christian Democrat Union, or CDU - has dominated politics in the state since the end of World War II, ruling for all but three years over the course of almost seven decades.

"Those who have voted for AfD in Bavaria today also say Merkel must go, dear ladies and gentlemen", she said. Populist anti-migrant parties across the region have splintered traditional support bases on the left and right, leading to fractured election outcomes and more coalition governments.

After Sunday s election, Seehofer, 69, insisted he would stay on as Merkel s interior minister, even as a poll for news weekly Focus said 46 percent of Germans blame him and his brinkmanship for the CSU s historically-poor result.

The center-left Social Democrats, Ms. Merkel's other coalition partner in Berlin, were on course for a disastrous fifth-place result of 10 percent or less.

In Germany, the head of the CSU is held to be primarily responsible for the rout election of the conservatives in Bavaria.

The party became the strongest force in the state capital Munich, where jubilant Greens leaders Ludwig Hartmann and national co-chief Robert Habeck celebrated Sunday by crowd-surfing in a sea of cheering supporters. One thing is for sure: "Despite certain debates and comments and forecasts, the CSU is not only the strongest party, it has remit to form government, and that has to be said as well in this context".

He said his preference was for a center-right coalition. The CSU lost some 180,000 votes to the nationalist party - but it lost as many to the Greens and nearly as many to the Free Voters of Bavaria, another local party with centrist politics and a focus on community affairs.

The Greens, traditionally bitter opponents of the Christian Social Union, with a more liberal approach to immigration and an emphasis on environmental issues, are another possibility. A pro-business party, the Free Democrats, scraped into the state legislature with 5.1 percent support but won't be needed to form a coalition.

This has given the CSU an outsized role in national politics.

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That government has been notable largely for internal squabbling since it took office in March.

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has railed against Merkel's 2015 decision to keep open German borders to a mass influx of refugees and migrants, scored 10%.

This June they argued over whether to turn back small numbers of asylum-seekers at the German-Austrian border, briefly threatening to bring down the national government. He told ZDF television his party's election performance had causes in both Berlin and Munich.

The tactic resulted in CSU leader Horst Seehofer's attempts to single-handedly limit immigration and step up deportations.

It remains to be seen whether and how the Bavarian result will affect the national government's stability or Merkel's long-term future.

Merkel's sister party CSU suffers worst election result since 1950 in Bavaria Germany's political landscape is crumbling as Merkel's sister party, the CSU, has only received 37.3% of the votes in Bavaria, preliminary results show.

Mr. Bouffier has criticized the CSU for diminishing people's trust in Germany's conservatives.

"It is totally undisputed that the way we have treated each other in the coalition, and also the way we argued with each other in the summer, was anything but inspiring for the state election in Bavaria", she said.

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