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"It would have been much cheaper": Markus Söder and the CSU are in crisis

2023-12-10T12:09:51.906Z

Highlights: "It would have been much cheaper": Markus Söder and the CSU are in crisis. The result in the state election was weak, Free Voters leader Hubert Aiwanger has the upper hand. And in next year's European elections, there is a risk of a severe loss of votes. "A coalition with the Free Voters with the SPD is much more serious than the SPD with the free Voters," says one of S Öder's critics. "They are hardly suitable models of the CS U anymore"



Status: 10.12.2023, 13:00 PM

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Markus Söder at a press conference of the CSU (symbolic image). © Smith/Imago

The result in the state election was weak, Free Voters leader Hubert Aiwanger has the upper hand. And in next year's European elections, there is a risk of a severe loss of votes.

Hardly anyone understands self-staging as well as Markus Söder, and he does not shy away from embarrassment. Last week, in one of his usual video messages, he lit an Advent wreath in a flashy red Christmas sweater with a large moose head on his chest and wished his followers on Instagram a happy first Advent.

CSU in crisis? Aiwanger and the Free Voters remain incalculable for Markus Söder

On television, too, Söder likes to play the strong man who has everything under control. His place is in Munich, but from time to time he will be in Berlin to make sure everything is right, he recently announced to Maischberger. In Söder's view, the problems with his unpredictable coalition partner Hubert Aiwanger have vanished into thin air. "We work really well together," says Söder. And if Aiwanger shoots further populist extra tours? "I'll be careful."

But from a sober point of view, the situation for Söder and the CSU looks quite different. In the state elections, the target of 40 percent was clearly missed, and after the second state election under Söder, the CSU is in a weaker position than it has been since the early 50s. And the expectation that the rebellious Aiwanger could be chained up after the election, because then the beer tent season, in which the leader of the Free Voters had made a big splash, will be over, has not been fulfilled either. Aiwanger remains an incalculable partner for Söder – one who has no intention of subordinating himself.

Coalition with Free Voters a mistake by Markus Söder and CSU

It is becoming increasingly clear that Söder's early commitment to the continuation of a coalition with the Free Voters in order to allay the CSU's fear of a black-green coalition was a serious strategic mistake that is now catching up with Söder. During the election campaign, no one in the CSU dared to criticize this line. The Greens are too unpopular with the party base, especially after the dispute over the heating law. But now people who previously remained silent out of consideration are also venturing out of cover.

"That shows how much people have made themselves dependent," says former CSU leader and long-time Stoiber confidant Erwin Huber about Söder's coalition course. "In doing so, the CSU has abandoned the goal of an independent government and taken motivation out of the election campaign."

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Criticism of Markus Söder: "It would have been much cheaper"

The Greens, who are hated by the CSU base, would by no means have been the only alternative for Söder; he could also have left the door open to the SPD, as Boris Rhein did in Hesse. "A coalition with the SPD is much more serious than with the Free Voters," says one of Söder's critics, adding: "They would have been much cheaper."

No one could have guessed before the election that both the CSU and the SPD would perform so poorly that a black-red coalition in the state parliament would now only have a razor-thin one-vote majority. As a threatening backdrop in the direction of the Free Voters for a change of coalition in the middle of the legislative period, this model is therefore hardly suitable anymore.

Future of the CSU uncertain: Party bigwigs take a critical view of Markus Söder's path

Huber is not the only Söder predecessor who has been critical of the development of the CSU for some time, Theo Waigel also sees it similarly, Söder's immediate predecessor Horst Seehofer anyway, but Seehofer remains publicly silent. Of the previous squad, only Edmund Stoiber is firmly at Söder's side.

Among other experienced CSU people who have experienced the golden times with absolute majorities, disillusionment is spreading. There is an informal circle of former members of the federal and state governments that meets several times a year, organized by former Finance Minister Georg von Waldenfels. Former presidents of parliament are also invited. 15 to 20 people always come together. The meetings not only glorify the old days, but also discuss the current shortcomings. And these are obvious in the eyes of the ancients. The election campaign was weak, exhausted itself in attacks on the traffic lights and did not present its own solutions to the pressing problems.

Political crisis in the CSU: What else do Markus Söder and the party stand for?

In key policy areas, it is not known what the party actually stands for, the current example is the citizens' money, which was co-decided by the Union and thus also by the CSU and which is now being fiercely opposed. The CSU's ability to campaign, which in its heyday was always a robust fighting community, has also suffered.

For example, it was always customary for auxiliary troops of the Junge Union to put up posters for the respective candidates, to look after information booths and to be present at door-to-door election campaigns. In Munich, CSU candidates in this state election reportedly experienced that the party's junior members were only willing to provide such auxiliary services for a fee.
Emaciated at the federal and state level

Crisis of meaning in the CSU: Markus Söder still firmly in the saddle – The old complain, the young duck away

But as long as only the old complain and the current generation ducks away, Söder has nothing to fear. The depletion of personnel at the federal and state level is one of the CSU's biggest problems, but at the same time Söder benefits from it. Because there is no one who could pose a threat to the party leader or even lead an uprising against him. Söder didn't cause this problem, but he also didn't do anything in his five years at the helm to let talents rise with independent positions.

On the contrary, no CSU leader has ever tailored the party to himself as much as Söder. His cabinet is colorless and lackluster, to which the Free Voters contribute to the best of their ability. The once powerful parliamentary group in the state parliament has been a total failure in the past five years, and the situation is no better in the Berlin state group. And if a critical voice stirs in any committee meeting far away from Munich, Söder finds out about it immediately. The person concerned then often receives a message from Söder on his mobile phone. Critics speak of a "brutal system of rule".

Söder's "brutal system of rule": Stoiber's CSU was different

In the days of Stoiber, who was also a control freak and radioed everywhere with his state chancellery, things were different. "Stoiber demanded that his most important ministers be present, visible and active at the federal level," recalls former Finance Minister Kurt Faltlhauser, also a member of the Elders' Club. Faltlhauser had several tax reform concepts drawn up without first asking Stoiber for permission. In Söder's cabinet, on the other hand, personal initiative is not required.

The fact that, to his own satisfaction, Söder is stable in one of the top places in the politician rankings conceals the fact that his national political luminosity has clearly diminished. During the Corona pandemic, he was one of the most influential political figures, but now he hardly seems to be interested in hard work. At the minister-presidents' conference a few weeks ago, when the mega issue of migration was discussed, Söder said "almost nothing" and disappeared 20 minutes before the end of the meeting, according to the SPD camp. The spokesman for the CDU/CSU-led states is now clearly North Rhine-Westphalia Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst.

Markus Söder makes headlines: "Talk of national crises always benefits the wrong people"

Söder, on the other hand, puts more energy into the production of short-term headlines. Sometimes he suggests that the CDU/CSU should join the government as a junior partner under Olaf Scholz, sometimes he calls for new elections together with next year's European elections, sometimes he paints a state crisis on the wall and thus provides the AfD with a steep advantage. "The talk of state crises always benefits the wrong people," says political scientist Ursula Münch.

Incidentally, Söder's call for new elections for the summer of 2024 has little to do with his concern for the country, but above all with his concern about the CSU's result in the European elections. A look at the figures shows how justified this concern is. European elections have often been difficult for the CSU. In 2019, the CSU won 40.7 percent, which corresponded to a nationwide share of 6.3 percent. But the top candidate of the European conservatives was also CSU man Manfred Weber. His candidacy was linked to the hope that Weber could become President of the European Commission after the election. This has provided a boost in the Bavarian homeland. This time it is missing, in the CSU one fears bitter losses.

If it were to slip below the five percent mark in next year's European elections, it would still be represented in the European Parliament because there is no barrier clause there. But for the Bundestag elections a good year later, it would be a portent if the electoral reform of the traffic light system were to stand up before the Federal Constitutional Court. And for Söder, probably the end of all chancellor dreams. (By Peter Fahrenholz)

Source: merkur

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