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Cablegate: Can the Cdu Win an Absolute Majority in the Hesse

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS FRANKFURT 000392

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV GM
SUBJECT: CAN THE CDU WIN AN ABSOLUTE MAJORITY IN THE HESSE
ELECTIONS?

1. The latest polls in Hesse, released January 8 and 9, put
CDU Minister-President Koch ahead of his SPD challenger
Gerhard Boekel by near 15 percentage points. There is an
increasing possibility that the CDU could win an absolute
majority and not require any assistance from the FDP, who
may have a hard time reaching the five percent threshold in
its bid to return to parliament. Berlin-based polling
institutes FORSA and Infratest dimap (in brackets) give the
following projections:

CDU 47 (47)
SPD 32 (33)
Greens 12 (10)
FDP 5 ( 5)

2. The parties are reacting cautiously to the latest polls.
On January 9, Interior Minister Volker Bouffier (CDU) warned
that despite the CDU's excellent chances of winning, it
would be risky to bet on a CDU absolute majority. "But
every voter should make the CDU as strong as possible,"
Bouffier said, and "A vote for the FDP doesn't help us reach
our goal." SPD Shadow Interior Minister Manfred Schaub told
us that last year's national elections proved that voter
sentiment could change at the last minute. He also said:
"Elections in Hesse have always been close. One possible
outcome is that so many CDU voters want an absolute majority
that the FDP could fail to make the 5 percent threshold,
thus giving the SPD-Greens a slight majority." (Comment:
This is certainly possible. If the FDP lost enough votes to
the CDU that the FDP did not reach the five percent mark,
then the CDU could win a plurality, while still losing to
the combined strength of the SPD and Greens.

3. Green Party caucus chief Tarek Al Wazir sees the
weakness of the Hesse SPD as quite serious. In addition,
the Green Party's own polling data indicates the FDP's
return to state parliament is still uncertain. "I consider
the probability of the FDP's making the 5 percent threshold
as less than 50 percent right now. What is certain is that
the number three position is ours." In contrast, FDP caucus
chairman Joerg-Uwe Hahn says that the FDP has no fear of
getting less than 5 percent. "People will be surprised at
our strong showing. We saw strong gains in the national
elections and we will see them in Hesse as well."

4. This message has been coordinated with Embassy Berlin.

BODDE

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