What impact will the vote in Bavaria have?

The Christian Social Union, which has dominated Bavarian politics practically uninterrupted since the Second World War, looks set to lose its absolute majority in state elections on Sunday. Polls give the party just 34 percent of the vote, followed by the Green Party with 19 percent. In its campaign the CSU sought to win back votes from the far-right AfD by criticising refugee policy. Commentators say the strategy has failed.

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La Croix (FR) /

The Christian Socialists miscalculated

The CSU has made the same mistakes as other ruling parties in Europe, La Croix notes:

“The CSU heaped criticism on the chancellor so as to set itself apart from the CDU. In refusing to show the solidarity that is so fundamental, the Bavarian party has undermined the authority of the Merkel coalition to which it belongs and given the impression that it approves of extremist ideas. But it miscalculated and pushed a section of its moderate voters into the arms of the Green Party. ... By ceding to pressure from the populists, governments across Europe risk the same fate as the CSU, setting traps in which they themselves could be caught.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Urban voters shifting allegiance to the Greens

The Greens can reap maximum benefit from the weakness of the CSU, Gazeta Wyborcza explains:

“The polls show a connection: When the CSU lost votes, it was the Greens who won them. ... The CSU politicians were focussing on their rivals from the AfD and didn't notice that they had competition in the big cities. ... The Greens have yet another advantage: the party is led by 33-year-old (very young in the German political context) Katharina Schulze. Unlike state Premier Söder, she doesn't launch into aggressive tirades and instead attempts to reconcile opponents and calm emotions. The pubs and restaurants that she visits in small towns (often wearing the traditional dirndl) are filled to overflowing with people. That shows that the days when the Greens were seen as crazy eco-freaks are a thing of the past.”

Mladá fronta dnes (CZ) /

Conservatives could even end up in opposition

In purely numerical terms it's even possible that the CSU could lose its participation in the government, Mladá fronta dnes notes:

“This scenario is not particularly probable but it can't be ruled out: the small parties could join forces and form their own coalition - without the CSU. And without the AfD, which no one wants to form a coalition with. The CSU has warned of such a scenario. Such a 'rainbow coalition against the CSU' would cause chaos in Bavaria, the party's secretary general Markus Blume predicted. Bavaria's hitherto successful path would be in acute danger. But the fact is that 71 percent of voters want a coalition. Only 23 percent would want a 100 percent CSU government.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Box on the ear for CSU also bad for Germany

The fall of the CSU could destabilise Germany as a whole, Die Presse fears:

“'Laptops and lederhosen' [leather breeches]: this slogan used to highlight the balancing act performed by the CDU. But it no longer works in the fragmented society of the 21st century. The centrifugal forces are too strong. For the party's plunge in the polls the CSU's honorary chairman Edmund Stoiber recently blamed migrants within Germany who come to Bavaria seeking prosperity but don't necessarily like the CSU, which turned this traditionally agricultural state into a high-tech hub with the lowest rates of unemployment and criminality in the country. Those who are gloating about the looming 'box on the ear' for the CSU should bear these achievements in mind - and also what a CSU debacle could mean for Germany. Europe's biggest economy, which has already become politically unstable in recent times, could become even more unstable.”