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Cablegate: Filling Big Shoes: Bavaria's New Interior Minister

VZCZCXRO2343
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHLZ RUEHPOD
DE RUEHMZ #0636/01 3371650
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031650Z DEC 07
FM AMCONSUL MUNICH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4188
RUCNMEU/EU INTEREST COLLECTIVE
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MUNICH 000636

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV GM
SUBJECT: FILLING BIG SHOES: BAVARIA'S NEW INTERIOR MINISTER


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.

REFS: (A) MUNICH 578, (B) MUNICH 218

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SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) The recent selection of Joachim Herrmann to be Bavaria's
new Interior Minister, after 14 years of Bavarian Minister-President
Guenther Beckstein holding that office, caught nearly everyone by
surprise. Herrmann not only has no background in law enforcement,
but appeared content to remain in his old position as Chairman of
the CSU Caucus in the State Parliament (Landtag). Bavaria's
Interior Ministry has long held disproportionate sway in state
politics, and in federal security policy coordination. Early
engagement of Herrmann with Washington briefings will help build a
relationship that supports effective cooperation with U.S.
authorities. If local history is any indicator, Herrmann's new role
positions him well to potentially succeed Beckstein as
Minister-President.

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AN OCTOBER SURPRISE
-------------------

2. (U) The most eagerly-anticipated question when new Bavarian
Minister-President Guenther Beckstein announced his cabinet October
16 was who would succeed the nationally-known and respected
Beckstein as Interior Minister. The answer turned out to be the
surprise of the day -- Bavarian Landtag CSU Caucus Chairman Joachim
Herrmann (51). Not only had Herrmann for months indicated that he
would prefer to remain in his Landtag position than accept a cabinet
post, he also had no background in law enforcement -- making him a
particularly surprising choice given Bavaria's "tough on crime"
reputation.

3. (SBU) The position of Bavarian Interior Minister has served in
recent years to groom future Minister-Presidents -- both Beckstein
and Stoiber served as Interior Ministers before ascending to the
Minister-Presidency. Particularly given the 12 year age difference
between Beckstein (64) and Herrmann, he would be well positioned to
potentially succeed Beckstein sometime between the 2008 and 2013
state elections.

-------------------------------
WHAT KIND OF INTERIOR MINISTER?
-------------------------------

4. (SBU) While in office just a month, Herrmann has given some
indications as to what we may expect from him as Interior Minister.
As CSU Caucus Chairman, Herrmann occasionally was a source of
friction for Beckstein -- arguing in favor of privacy rights and
data protection over security when Beckstein pushed for new methods
of electronic surveillance. Now, since being named Interior
Minister, he appears to have moderated his view. One of his first
initiatives was to call on the Social Democratic Party (SPD) to end
its resistance to online searches. "Terrorists have to be prevented
from planning their crimes on the Internet," he told the tabloid
"Bild."

5. (U) Herrmann is a longtime contact of the Consulate and was an
IV grantee in 1999. Because of his lack of background in security
and law enforcement issues, post is encouraging Herrmann to visit
Washington in the near future for briefings from the law enforcement
and intelligence communities.

-------
COMMENT
-------

6. (SBU) Due to Germany's federal system in which law enforcement
authority largely resides at the state level, state interior
ministers are relatively powerful -- given Bavaria's size and
international borders, this power is magnified. Herrmann knows his
performance as Interior Minister will be measured against that of
"law and order" Beckstein. He can ill-afford to preside over an
erosion of Bavarians' sense of security if he harbors any ambition
to succeed Beckstein as Minister-President. We expect Herrmann will
not institute any significant changes to the policies so
successfully carried-out by Beckstein. In that regard, we expect
him, like Beckstein, to cooperate closely with the U.S., and also be
a solid partner for Federal Interior Minister Schaeuble. As for the
future, while it is too early to accurately predict who might
succeed Beckstein as Minister-President, Herrmann is well positioned
- he is the right age in the right job, and at present, does not
face any obvious competition.

7. (U) This report has been coordinated with Embassy Berlin.

8. (U) A biographic report on Joachim Herrmann as well as previous

MUNICH 00000636 002 OF 002


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

NELSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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