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Cablegate: The Csu's Annual Convention - Sticking with Stoiber, But

VZCZCXRO9070
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHYG
DE RUEHMZ #0777/01 3071625
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031625Z NOV 06
FM AMCONSUL MUNICH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3628
INFO RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEU/EU INTEREST COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MUNICH 000777

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV GM
SUBJECT: THE CSU'S ANNUAL CONVENTION - STICKING WITH STOIBER, BUT
WORRIED ABOUT THE FUTURE


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SUMMARY
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1. Chancellor Merkel and Bavarian Minister-President Edmund Stoiber
made a show of unity at the CSU's annual convention. Behind the
facade, however, the CSU is reluctantly marching behind Stoiber - a
leader whose glory has visibly faded. Recent polls show the CSU's
popularity in Bavaria at around the magic 50 percent margin (a
dramatic loss over its 60.7 percent showing in 2003). Stoiber also
is doing relatively poorly in popularity contests, even among CSU
voters, leading to fear within the party about the CSU's prospects
for the 2008 state elections. In his keynote address, Stoiber
reaffirmed CSU opposition to Turkey joining the EU. He also heavily
attacked the SPD for putting the brakes on national reform projects,
while also insisting there is no alternative to the current national
government coalition. Similarly, the CSU has accepted that there is
currently no alternative to Stoiber. In the meantime, Stoiber can
be expected to be a fair-weather friend to the government in Berlin
- he will offer unwavering support as long as it does not does not
lead to wavering in the CSU's pole numbers. End summary.

------------------------------------
"LIKE ALWAYS, THE CSU IS IN CONTROL"
------------------------------------

2. The motto of this year's CSU convention in Augsburg was "Best
Education, Best Chances," echoed in the simultaneous decision by the
Scientific Council in Germany to bestow the two Munich universities
with the title of "elite" universities. In her speech, Chancellor
Merkel acknowledged Bavaria's strengths, saying "like always, the
CSU is in control." Merkel also praised the two national CSU
ministers, Economic Minister Michael Glos and Agriculture Minister
Horst Seehofer in her remarks. In his remarks, Stoiber took pains
to stress the CSU's national relevance, even quoting SPD caucus
chairman Peter Struck who allegedly said he was surprised at the
CSU's continued influence in Berlin.

---------------------------
"DR. NO," "DR. STRANGELOVE"
---------------------------

3. Calling him "Dr. No," and "Dr. Strangelove," national newspapers
have recently run critical stories on Stoiber and his perceived role
of casting stones at the grand coalition government in Berlin.
While Stoiber has called on the CSU to support the coalition
government, he insisted that recent criticism of his obstruction on
health care reform was in fact evidence that he does all to secure
Bavarian interests - his principle duty. Stoiber also pointed to
Bavaria's neighbor Austria as a negative example of what might
happen if the CSU neglected concepts of social justice and ignored
the fundamental concerns of its constituency. Austrian Chancellor
Schuessel and his party had achieved important structural reforms
and tremendous economic successes. However, they left issues such
as social responsibility to the Social Democrats and concern about
foreigners to right-wing parties, he said. The recent Austrian
election result was a clear signal that the CSU must be more aware
of its commitment to reconcile economic progress and social
justice.

--------------------------------------------- ---
TURKEY IN THE EU - LIKE NICARAGUA AS 51ST STATE...
--------------------------------------------- ---

4. As far as Turkish EU accession was concerned, Stoiber offered
nothing new - but rather reaffirmed that he was in open opposition
to President Bush. Stoiber said making Turkey a member of the EU
was just as unreasonable as making Nicaragua the 51st U.S. state.

--------------------------------------------- ----
MINISTER-PRESIDENT FOR AS LONG AS HE WANTS TO BE?
--------------------------------------------- ----

5. The CSU runs on loyalty and discipline. While a few internal
party critics have openly called for Stoiber's resignation, their
calls have largely fallen on deaf ears. Despite the
less-than-enthusiastic reception Stoiber received in Bavaria after
abandoning a federal cabinet position to remain as
Minister-President, a party coup does not appear on the horizon.
Bavarian Interior Minister Beckstein and Economic Minister Huber
were ready to fight each other over Stoiber's job -- but they won't
challenge Stoiber directly. At the convention, one of CSU Landtag
Caucus Chairman Herrmann's staffers told us that he could not help
the feeling that the same disenchantment that led to Max Streibl's
fall as Minister-President thirteen years ago was palpable
throughout Bavaria today. However, in 1993, two men were ready for
Streibl's succession -- Stoiber and Theo Waigel. Unlike 1993, there
is currently no obvious alternative to Stoiber.

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MUNICH 00000777 002 OF 002


COMMENT
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6. The CSU has never really loved Edmund Stoiber. However, as long
as he guaranteed absolute CSU majorities, the party respected him
and followed him blindly. While there are signs of discontent in
CSU-land, there is no emerging leader ready to replace Stoiber and
lead it through the 2008 state elections. CSU Landtag Caucus
Chairman Joachim Herrmann, right now the most likely Stoiber
successor, is content to wait on the sidelines. He does not want to
be associated with a potential significant decline at the polls for
the CSU in 2008 due to public disapproval of grand coalition
policies. Stoiber, also aware of this discontent, will focus on
"hard," but easy-sell, issues such as law and order and immigration.
His strategy is "Bavaria first" - which includes staunch opposition
to controversial grand coalition policies should they alienate
traditional CSU voters.

7. This report has been coordinated with Embassy Berlin.

8. Previous reporting from Munich is available on our SIPRNET
website at www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/munich/ .

NELSON

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