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.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
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

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week