Bavarian poll may shape Angela Merkel’s new German government

State’s conservatives seek absolute majority a week ahead of national elections

Berlin

The shape of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s future government could be outlined on Sunday when the Bavarian branch of her conservative party goes to the polls in one of Germany’s most prosperous states in a vote seen as a litmus test for next week’s general election.

Bavaria’s governing Christian Social Union (CSU), the sister party to Ms Merkel’s ruling Christian Democrats, is facing a key state run-off against the opposition Social Democrats just one week ahead of Germany’s full general election, which takes place on 22 September. 

Horst Seehofer, Bavaria’s CSU Prime Minister, is banking on winning an absolute majority in the state, which would enable him to end his current coalition government with the faltering, pro-business liberal Free Democrats: “I want the CSU to be the only governing party in Bavaria,” he insists. With her party enjoying a steady lead of nearly 10 per cent over its nearest rivals at a national level, Ms Merkel is not dependent on winning in Bavaria. However, the CSU’s ruling alliance with the Free Democrats in Bavaria mirrors the line-up in Ms Merkel’s coalition.

If the Free Democrats lose in Bavaria, pundits argue that the party will most likely fail to win the necessary five per cent of votes to enter parliament in Berlin. Such an outcome would then oblige Ms Merkel to form a national “grand coalition” government with the opposition Social Democrats, which could force her to soften her current hard line austerity policies on Europe. Ms Merkel’s first government in 2005 was a grand coalition.

The conservative CSU has ruled unbroken in Bavaria for 55 years, prompting charges that it is a “one-party” state. It sees itself as the driving force behind the state’s enviable prosperity. Bavaria has the lowest unemployment rate in Germany, running at just 3.8 per cent. It is also home to major German companies such as BMW and Siemens.

Mr Seehofer’s CSU looks set to romp home to victory on Sunday. His party is enjoying popularity ratings that are enough to make Angela Merkel jealous. The CSU is polling at 48 per cent, placing it some 28 points ahead of its nearest rival, the opposition Social Democrats led by Munich mayor, Christian Ude.

The 64-year-old Bavarian leader, who is the son of a lorry driver, has been annoying Ms Merkel during his campaign by calling for a road tax for foreigners, an idea which the Chancellor has publicly slapped down. But Mr Seehofer has only benefited from the spat, having shown that he is one of the few male conservatives left who are prepared to confront Germany’s seemingly omnipotent leader.

The CSU is hoping that, by obtaining an absolute majority, it will be able to ditch its Free Democrat coalition partners and rule the state on its own.Such an outcome is unlikely to be on the cards for Angela Merkel in a week’s time, although Heinrich Oberreuter, a Bavarian political scientist, said that if the CSU does well in the state election it would send a “strong signal” for the conservatives overall.

He told Der Spiegel online that a defeat for the liberals in Bavaria could also motivate tactical voters who believe that Germany needs  a pro-business party in its national government to support them at the polls in the general election a week later.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower