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Cablegate: B-W Cdu Caucus Chief Expects M-P Teufel to Step

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

UNCLAS FRANKFURT 000926

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL GM
SUBJECT: B-W CDU CAUCUS CHIEF EXPECTS M-P TEUFEL TO STEP
DOWN IN THE SUMMER OF 2004

1. Summary: In a meeting with Consul General on January 29,
Baden-Wuerttemberg (B-W) caucus chief Guenther Oettinger,
the possible successor to B-W Minister President Erwin
Teufel (CDU), spoke about the upcoming elections in Hesse
and Lower Saxony and his own political future. He also used
the occasion to express his party's firm support of the U.S.
Administration. Oettinger criticized the national government
for straining the U.S.-German relationship for purely
tactical reasons. Concerning the upcoming state elections
in Hesse and Lower Saxony, Oettinger is confident that the
CDU will win both elections. Via the Bundesrat, the CDU
will increase the pressure on the national government to go
ahead with fundamental reforms. Concerning his own future,
Oettinger stated that he expects Minister President (M-P)
Teufel to step down in the middle of next year to give his
successor a chance to start on the 2006-election campaign.
Oettinger hinted that he would be ready to take over if the
party supports him. In any case, he will not be available
as caucus chief in the next legislative period starting
2006. End Summary.

2. Oettinger expressed his deep regret over the tension
that Chancellor Schroeder has brought into the German-
American relationship. The B-W state government and in
particular the state CDU are disappointed that 55 years of
friendship with the U.S. are being jeopardized for tactical
reasons. However, Oettinger believes that the "Iraq card"
will not work for the state elections in Hesse and Lower
Saxony. According to him, the voters want to hear about
internal issues like unemployment, education or taxes.

3. Oettinger was fairly confident that Hesse M-P Roland Koch
will be re-elected. Christian Wulff, the CDU candidate
running against Lower Saxony M-P Siegmar Gabriel (SPD) is in
a slightly different situation in that he would not have a
chance if the national SPD/Green coalition government wasn't
as unpopular as it is. Since the federal government has no
new ideas and no clear plan for the nation, the electorate
in the two states will take the opportunity to cast a
protest vote. He predicted that most of the frustration
would hit the SPD. The Greens are in a better position
since they are not that close to the unions and thus in a
better position to call for reforms.

4. Concerning the future of the liberal Free Democratic
Party (FDP), Oettinger pointed out that the FDP is in a
pretty comfortable situation in the southwest. B-W is the
political home of both the FDP and the Greens. The Liberals
are deeply rooted in the southwest and their prospects in B-
W are good. For the national party, he sees no quick
solution to the Moellemann-Westerwelle conflict. The FDP's
"18 percent" strategy was not enough to convince voters,
since it could not make up for the lack of a party platform
with mass appeal. Oettinger sees the FDP back in its
traditional role of a kingmaker after the Hesse and Lower
Saxony State elections. In both states, the Liberals will
be needed to secure a majority in parliament for either
party - a role they have been playing for decades. A CDU
election victory in Hesse and Lower Saxony will not bring
down the national government. However, it will bring the CDU
into a position to exert even greater influence on national
politics from the Bundesrat in which the opposition already
enjoys a majority). The CDU will try to speed up the reform
process and will force the national government to make
compromises. An election victory in both states would
increase the CDU majority in the Bundesrat in such a way
that it could almost be considered a "parallel government,"
Oettinger said.

5. When asked about possible CDU/Greens cooperation on
state level, Oettinger noted that a CDU/Greens coalition
will come whenever it helps to avoid SPD/PDS or SPD/Greens
coalitions. As an example, he cited the Saarland as
possible model for the first CDU/Green coalition on a state
level in 2004. However, as long as the FDP is available as
a coalition partner, there is no need for the CDU to
consider cooperation with the Greens.

6. Concerning his own political future in the southwest,
Oettinger stated that M-P Teufel would not run in the 2006
election campaign. Next year, the CDU will have to decide
who is to succeed Teufel, Oettinger said. He noted that it
would be an important advantage for the party if the CDU can
go into the 2006 election campaign with a new Minister
President who has already assumed responsibility. Oettinger
also stated that in case the CDU does not decide in his
favor, he would no longer be available for the position of
caucus chief in the next legislative period.

Bodde

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