Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 06:18:58 AM EST
Edmund Stoiber, PM of Bavaria and head of the right-populist regional Christian Socialist party (CSU), who was the unsuccesful chancellor candidate of the right-wing in the 2002 federal elections, announced his resignation from all posts by 30 September, just ahead of the next party congress for selecting the party head and PM candidate. SPIEGEL photo:
The move followed increasing attacks from within his party, which were fuelled by the power struggle of heir apparents, but were triggered by a scandal: an inner-party critic, representative for Fürth in the Bavarian parliament Gabriele Pauli, learnt that the party headquarters is spying on her, seeking personal data. (Fran had some of it in the 15 January Breakfast.)
The CSU, the sister party of the CDU (which operates in the other 15 states of Germany), is a Catholic-conservative party. At its roots, it is both chauvinistic and socialistic, though its leadership is also industry-bosses-friendly. It was made the quasi-monopolist in Bavarian politics by one of the defining politicians of onetime West Germany (defining in everyone trying to keep him away from federal politics), Franz-Josef Strauß, a baroquely fat jovial über-populist, whose style was a cross between beer-loving peasant, king, mafia don and Cold War warrior.
But on the road to German post-industrialisation, Strauß's Bavaria also grew from poorest to richest state, and when Stoiber inherited Bavaria upon Strauß's death in 1988, he could do almost nothing to not remain in power. In fact, though Stoiber is disliked across the rest of Germany for populist talk and folkish style, at home in Bavaria he was perceived as kind of a 'Prussian' beancounter with no soul, and his attempts to compensate this with appearances at folk fairs and Oktoberfest presence and silly populisms were half-successes at best.
But now his time seems over. Let me introduce his three heir-apparents.
Günther Beckstein is Bavaria's high-profile interior minister. He has a serious image, but is a sour law-and-order conservative. (BTW, strangely enough, not a Catholic but a Calvinist.) In best Stalinist tradition, he was already informally chosen to take over as PM.
The text on the above fake CDU/CSU poster, made by the Rhineland-Palatine local branch of the Jusos (the youth wing of the SPD [SocDems]) reads: "Do You want more police state? More police violence?"
You say my picture selection is biased?... You get one more:
On to the next guy:
Erwin Huber is Bavaria's current economy minister, and will take over the party leadership. At least if things go as the party leadership wanted. Huber is an economic liberal, and would take the CSU towards the neoliberal consensus.
Horst Seehofer is one of the few German conservative politicians I like somewhat. He is currently federal minister for agriculture and consumer protection. He is on the left wing of his party, an elder politician, but with not much of a power base in the top ranks of the party. Nevertheless, he announced that he wants to contest the CSU leadership at the party congress even if Huber was chosen by the kingmakers.