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Cablegate: Torch Passing in Conservative Bastion: Baden-

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
SUBJECT: Torch Passing in Conservative Bastion: Baden-
Wuerttemberg Minister-President Designate Oettinger

REF: 04 Frankfurt 10621 (lists previous reftels)

Sensitive but unclassified; not for internet distribution

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On April 21, Baden-Wuerttemberg CDU
(Christian Democratic) caucus chief Guenther Oettinger will
succeed Erwin Teufel as Minister-President. Oettinger, a
lawyer and business expert, will likely retain Teufel's
cabinet through state elections in March 2006. Observers
expect Oettinger to infuse the party with new ideas and
energy and to extend its dominance in next year's state
elections. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) For decades, the CDU has held power (alone or in
coalition) in Baden-Wuerttemberg (B-W), one of Germany's
economic centers (as home to Daimler-Chrysler and other
leading industrial groups). In December 2004, Oettinger won
the right to succeed Teufel in an unprecedented, non-binding
CDU membership referendum (by twenty points over State
Education Minister Annette Schavan). He was formally named
standard-bearer for the 2006 state elections at a special
CDU convention (with a convincing 94.7% of the vote).
Oettinger's ascent had been widely expected: since becoming
CDU caucus chairman in 1991, Oettinger had laid the basis to
succeed M-P Teufel. Two years ago, he privately emphasized
to us the importance of Teufel making way for a new CDU
minister-president prior to state elections in 2006.

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3. (SBU) Insiders see Oettinger as an astute and ambitious
politician but not always a charismatic speaker. Oettinger
is a political survivor who outlasted Teufel's antagonism
over the past decade. When M-P Teufel failed to get a
majority on the first parliamentary ballot in 1996, he
accused Oettinger of plotting against him, an accusation
Teufel repeated over the years. Teufel made no secret of
his preference for Schavan over Oettinger (reftel).

4. (SBU) Oettinger belongs to the liberal wing of the CDU
and gained nationwide recognition early in his political
career. As chairman of the state Junge Union (Young
Conservatives) from 1983 to 1989, Oettinger publicly
declared in 1988 that then-Chancellor Kohl's best days had
passed and suggested that Kohl step down. Oettinger was
first elected to the B-W State Parliament in 1984. In 2001,
he became chairman of the influential North-Wuerttemberg
chapter of the B-W CDU (on April 29, Oettinger will also
assume the position of B-W CDU state chairman). Oettinger
is a tactician rather than an ideologue; as early as 1992,
he suggested that the CDU could go into coalition with the B-
W Greens under the right conditions. Privately, Oettinger
emphasizes that the CDU is a "people's party" that must
consider the effects of economic reform on average Germans.

5. (SBU) Oettinger was born in Stuttgart on October 15,
1953. He is married to Inken Oettinger (nee Stange), a
fashion designer. The couple have one son. He plays piano
and guitar and enjoys attending rock concerts. Oettinger is
a former IV recipient whose three-week stay in the U.S.
during his time as Junge Union chairman left a deep
impression on him, shaping his view of the U.S. in very
positive ways. He speaks good English (albeit with a
pronounced Swabian accent).

6. (SBU) COMMENT: Oettinger's top priority for the next
twelve months will be winning the March 2006 state elections
with an absolute majority if possible (the CDU's state
coalition partner, the FDP, is mired in scandals).
Political insiders expect Oettinger to be more active on the
national level (i.e. in the Bundesrat) and to try to
increase the CDU's appeal to urban constituents who now vote
largely Green or Social Democratic. Oettinger likely will
place one or two confidants in key positions but keep most
of the current cabinet through next year's elections.
Supporters claim that Oettinger will reenergize politics and
borrow ideas from various political parties (not just his
own) to tackle the state's long-term economic, demographic,
and fiscal problems. END COMMENT.


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