Cablegate: Cdu Convention Debacle in Baden-Wuerttemberg Sets

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




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The December 5-6 Christian Democratic
(CDU) convention / leadership election in Boeblingen/Baden-
Wuerttemberg has raised doubts about Minister President
Erwin Teufel's political future. Although Teufel was
reelected with 76 percent of the vote, this was his worst
showing as CDU party chief and one of the worst of any
leader in the state's fifty-year history. A defiant Teufel
said he does not intend to step down, but the convention
debacle has put his future in question. Meanwhile, caucus
chief Guenther Oettinger and B-W Education Minister Annette
Schavan are quietly maneuvering to succeed him. While some
CDU contacts hope Teufel will hand over power in late 2004,
others fear a drawn out succession battle will damage the
CDU in one of its strongholds. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) On the heels of the CDU election victory in the
2001 state elections, key political observers expected Erwin
Teufel -- B-W's longest serving minister president -- to
hand over the reins by 2004, in time to prepare a successor
for the 2006 elections. Teufel defied expectations by
landing a seat at the European constitutional convention,
launching a multi-year reform of public administration, and
steadfastly refusing to name a successor. The media have
reported on increasing friction within the CDU and coalition
partner FDP (Free Democrats) over Teufel's autocratic
management style and unwillingness to make way for a

3. (SBU) At the convention, delegates told us they hoped
Teufel would use his speech to lay the groundwork for the
next generation of CDU leaders. Instead, Teufel ended a
lackluster speech with a promise to lead the party for
another two years. Although delegates gave Teufel a
standing ovation, many refused to support him in the
subsequent leadership vote. Accustomed to near 100 percent
support (two years ago, Teufel was re-elected with 93.7
percent), Teufel was visibly shocked over his meager result
of 76.9 percent. Delegates also "punished" CDU B-W
Secretary General/Federal Parliamentary Business Manager

Volker Kauder (75 percent). Teufel's poor showing became
the central theme at the convention and has dominated the
political scene in B-W since then.

4. (SBU) A shocked Teufel blamed unpopular cutbacks and
reforms: "He who follows a clear political line has
enemies." In a radio interview on December 8, Teufel said
he had no intention of stepping down and hinted at revenge
against his detractors: "... a showing like this is not
possible without people pulling strings in the background."

5. (SBU) Prior to the convention, the B-W CDU had kept the
succession debate under the carpet. The two most prominent
candidates to succeed Teufel -- caucus chief Guenther
Oettinger and B-W Education Minister Annette Schavan -- are
positioning themselves for a leadership bid. At the
convention, Schavan pledged support for Teufel and attacked
delegates for using a secret ballot to vent frustration. In
press interviews, Oettinger -- whose ambitions are no secret
-- denied any ill will towards the Minister President but
refused to condemn the anti-Teufel movement.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: Teufel's domineering style, recent
spending cuts and unpopular administrative reforms, as well
as his refusal to contemplate retirement, have fueled the
tensions within the party that finally erupted at the
Boeblingen convention. Teufel's poor re-election showing
underscores the retirement issue and leaves the succession
question unanswered. Many CDU members hope that Teufel will
step down in late 2004, when Teufel turns 65 and after
European/communal elections in June. Teufel's fighting
words worry even some supporters, who fear the long-serving
minister president -- like former chancellor Helmut Kohl --
might hang on for too long, damaging the CDU's standing in
one of its heartlands. END COMMENT.


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