Angela Merkel and Horst Seehofer have been at loggerheads
By Alix Culbertson, news reporter
Angela Merkel’s leadership has been placed under further pressure after voters chose far-right and green parties over her Bavarian allies.
The Christian Social Union (CSU) suffered its worst election result in 68 years, losing its absolute majority after winning just 37.3% of the vote during regional elections on Sunday.
It is only the second time since 1962 the conservative party has lost its absolute majority in the state of Bavaria, a situation which is certain to exacerbate an already tense relationship with its larger counterpart, the German chancellor’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU).The pro-immigration Greens came second as the party attracted more liberal CSU voters, doubling its share of the vote from five years ago to 17.8%.
The AfD’s Alice Weidel reacts after the first exit polls
The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) entered the state assembly for the first time, winning 11% of the vote, meaning the CSU will need to form a coalition in a state it is used to ruling alone.”Of course today is not an easy day for the CSU. We did not achieve a good result,” Bavarian premier Markus Soeder said.”We accept the result with humility.”Mrs Merkel’s junior coalition partner in Berlin, the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), also did badly, winning just 9.5% of the vote.
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SPD leader Andrea Nahles blamed the “poor performance” of the federal government for her party’s weak showing in Bavaria.
“It’s clear that something has to change,” she said.Fred Kempe, president of the Washington-based Atlantic Council think-tank, said: “The political earthquake was in Bavaria, but the aftershocks will be felt in Berlin.”Talk will increase ever more about the end of the Merkel era.”CSU leader Horst Seehofer has gradually shifted his party to the right in an attempt to halt the rise of the AfD after more than one million migrants entered Germany in 2015 thanks to Mrs Merkel’s open door policy.
Leaders of the German Green party celebrate
Mr Seehofer, who is the federal interior minister, launched a campaign of personal attacks on Mrs Merkel amid taking a hard-line against asylum seekers.Michael Weigl, a political scientist at the University of Passau, said: “This created a political climate of polarisation from which the Greens and the AfD benefited the most, with their clear stances on immigration.
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“For the CSU, this strategy backfired.”Mr Seehofer said he had not ruled out resigning but would not form an alliance with the AfD.