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This afternoon, I had an email exchange with Alexander who lives in Bavaria.

Hello Mish,

Reporting on the ground here in upper Bavaria. If the CSU forms a ruling coalition with the Afd in the Bavarian Landtag, I expect these results:

  1. New Ruling Coalition formed in Berlin; without CSU, most likely including Socialists. The CSU has a tiny number of Bundestag seats.
  1. CDU begins organizing in Bavaria. This happened in the early 1970s when there was a similar game of chicken between CDU and CSU. After a couple of weeks of CDU entering Bavaria, CSU caved.
  1. CSU shrinks even more and becomes a irrelevant party once the Bavarians split between voting CDU & CSU.
  1. Socialists and Greens win.

Therefore, I believe the Seehofer-Merkel-Söder fracas is mostly theater.


Wishful Thinking

Eurointelligence, with who I mostly agree on what is happening but mostly disagree on desired outcomes does not agree with the theater thesis. Here are some comments from this morning.

We notice a lot of wishful thinking by German journalists when it comes to the conflict between the CDU and CSU. When Horst Seehofer gave Angela Merkel another 14 days, the move was described as a climb-down. Today we noted an interview in FAZ with the CSU general secretary Markus Blume, which was also interpreted as a softening in the party's position. That interpretation eluded us once we read the interview in full. We disagree with the CSU's position and strategy vehemently, because it constitutes a unilateral threat to Schengen. This is an issue on which we support Merkel. But the CSU's position is not all that hard to understand.

Blume underlines the decision by the party's executive that there will have to be a national solution to the problem of incoming registered refugees if there is no European solution. What we don't know is whether the CSU is giving itself enough political room for manoeuvre to declare whatever is agreed at this week's summit as sufficiently encouraging. They left that door open in theory. But, given Italy's determination not to help Angela Merkel, it is hard to see how the CSU can come to that conclusion without a loss of face. If the purpose of this whole theatrical exercise was to shore up support for the CSU in the Bavarian state elections, we struggle to see how a last minute U-turn is going to achieve that result.

My Response

My response to Alexander is easy enough to understand. "Yes, CDU organizes in Bavaria but CSU organizes elsewhere. Big beneficiary: AfD"

His Reply

It's rather unlikely the CSU could be anything beyond Bavaria. Its very local homespun type of party. However, the CDU can capture voters in Bavaria. That’s why in the 1970s the CSU caves immediately in a similar fight.

AfD is a party of cranks and misfits with stunningly brilliant marketing. You did a piece a while back with the AfD posters I sent you.

However, once the CSU gets its act together, they’ll crush the AfD in Bavaria.

I’m in a county of Upper Bavaria that went about 12% AfD in the last National Election. Shocking. This country used to be 65-75% CSU back in the Franz Josef Strauss heyday.

No one admits to voting AfD around here. It’s easy to guess who did vote AfD. Of note, in my area; it’s mainly the erstwhile Socialists (SPD) who seem to be parroting AfD talking points.

It’s very difficult to judge the mood regarding the AfD here on the ground; since locals are keeping mum about the AfD. I’ll keep you posted. I do know there appears to be some switching from CSU to Greens and the FW locally.

CSU only has 46 seats in Bundestag out of 700 seats. CDU plus SPD equals 353 seats out of 700. A slim majority but still a majority.

Merkel can govern even without CSU.

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More Wishful Thinking

His reply looks like more wishful thinking.

I highly doubt that a slim 3 seat-majority could survive. SPD would demand more and more. Further cave-ins to SPD will drive more voters to AfD.

By the way, there is not a majority.

3-Seat Majority? No!

Image placeholder title

The above chart from Parliament & Parties.

Merkel Under Fire

Der Spiegel Comments

In hindsight, it seems as though the conflict we are now seeing between the CDU and CSU is but the logical final act of a link that has always been slightly neurotic, but which transformed into open distrust and even hate since the fall of 2015. The steady stream of "compromises" on refugee policy could only briefly conceal just how bad the atmosphere had become in this partnership. These sister parties haven't been friends for quite some time.

According to a survey commissioned by DER SPIEGEL, the majority of German citizens believe that the CDU and the CSU should split and go their separate ways. And if that were in fact to happen, and there are plenty of indications it might, it wouldn't just be the end of Merkel's tenure. It would also herald the end of a party system that has shaped Germany for the last 70 years and provided a fair degree of stability, particularly when compared to Germany's neighbors. And it would mark the beginning of a government crisis: It seems unrealistic to expect that the CDU and SPD would stay in power as a minority governmentor that they would bring the Greens on board to replace the CSU.At SPD headquarters in Berlin, preparations are already being made for new elections this fall.

Prepare for Elections

Despite missing the number of seats in the German Bundestag thereby concluding Merkel would have a majority, it is possible Alexander has the bottom line correct: CSU pulls back from the brink.

Regardless, this isn't theater.

Pull Back Thesis Issues

If the CSU figures it has more to lose by triggering elections, it may pull back, but at the risk of losing faith, and driving votes to AfD.

  1. CSU will have to want to pull back.
  2. CSU will have to conclude that despite losing votes to AfD if it does, that pulling back is a better result.
  3. Even if there is a cost to CSU, getting rid of Merkel may be worth it to the party.

The Wall Street Journal commented this morning with Immigration Backlash Erodes Merkel’s Power in Conservative Stronghold.

Consider an AfD/CSU Alliance

I beat the WSJ to the story by hours with my article: Increasing Chance CSU Aligns With AfD in Bavaria, Completely Splitting Germany.

Again, it's possible CSU pulls back, but it will be at a cost. That cost will be a loss of votes to AfD and it keeps Merkel in power.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock