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Cablegate: New Baden-Wuerttemberg State Cabinet

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: New Baden-Wuerttemberg State Cabinet

REF: a) Frankfurt 2973, b) 04 Frankfurt 10621

Sensitive but unclassified; not for internet distribution.

1. (U) SUMMARY: After assuming office (ref A), new Baden-
Wuerttemberg (B-W) Minister President Guenther Oettinger
(CDU/Christian Democrat) reshuffled the long-standing state
government and laid out an extensive program to gain re-election
in March 2006. On April 29, Oettinger replaced former M-P Teufel
as state CDU chairman. Part of the new CDU generation of
regional leaders, Oettinger's activist agenda focuses on economic
growth, education, and child-care/family policy. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Sworn into office April 21, Oettinger moved a week later
to appoint a partially reshuffled cabinet with three major
appointments (all Christian Democrats)
-- longtime Oettinger confidant Andreas Renner as State Minister
for Social Affairs
-- Peter Hauk, another close friend of Oettinger, as Minister for
-- former Environment Minister Stefan Mappus as CDU State
Parliament Caucus Chief.

Former Agricultural Minister Willi Staechele will now serve as
Minister at the B-W State Chancellery. Interestingly, Oettinger
kept former rival Annette Schavan as State Education Minister and
expanded that ministry's functions (reflecting the importance of
education as a campaign issue).

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3. (U) In his first program speech before the B-W State
Parliament, Oettinger laid out his agenda for the ten months
until state elections (3/2006), with new support for economic
growth, education, innovation, and child-care. By increasing the
number of all-day child-care centers, Oettinger aims to boost
work-force participation (and the flagging birth rate) and to
attract single mothers, young families, and urban voters who
value child-care and have tended to reject the B-W CDU's
traditional image of the family. Oettinger called for flexible
labor laws and lower taxes particularly for small and medium-
sized companies and criticized B-W's sizable net payment into the
federal/state budget system (which funnels resources to
economically depressed areas), noting that the state may again
challenge the system in the courts (as it did in 1999).

4. (U) At a special CDU convention April 29, Oettinger was
elected B-W CDU state chairman with 89.9% of the votes,
succeeding former M-P Erwin Teufel. In his farewell speech to
delegates, Teufel congratulated his successor and promised to
support the Christian Democrats in the 2006 election campaign. B-
W observers see Teufel's show of good will (after long-standing
bad blood with Oettinger) as another sign that the state CDU will
quickly overcome recent divisions within the party. Political
observers also give credit to Oettinger's relative youth (he
turns 52 this year) and his close ties to other CDU minister-
presidents of his generation.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: Oettinger is coming into his own politically,
although his national political prospects remain limited. His
relatively activist agenda is likely the precursor to more broad-
ranging initiatives after March 2006 state elections, in which
the CDU is heavily favored to prevail (either alone or in
continued coalition with the FDP). Election victory next March
would empower Oettinger to name additional supporters to the
government, particularly more women (both the opposition and some
CDU members criticized him for not naming more women cabinet
members during this round). In the meantime, Oettinger is
unlikely to deviate radically from Teufel's political course over
the last 14 years in order to keep the party united going into
2006 state and national elections. END COMMENT.


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