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Cablegate: German Elections: Csu to Cdu - You Still Need Us Badly

VZCZCXRO4399
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHSL RUEHYG
DE RUEHMZ #0250/01 2681112
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 251112Z SEP 09
FM AMCONSUL MUNICH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4926
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEU/EU INTEREST COLLECTIVE
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MUNICH 000250

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV GM
SUBJECT: GERMAN ELECTIONS: CSU TO CDU - YOU STILL NEED US BADLY

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Chancellor Merkel and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU)
depend on Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) to
do well in the September 27 Bundestag election in order to
strengthen the overall CDU/CSU result. Any CSU result within
polling ranges of 43 to 46 percent would beat any CDU outcome in any
other state, meaning the CSU could account for up to seven percent
of the national vote. This would make them the indispensable
partner for Chancellor Merkel in post-election negotiations with
either the Social Democratic Party (SPD) or the Free Democratic
Party (FDP). The CSU's relative strength in those negotiations
depends on how well the CSU does in relation to the CDU. Bavarians
expect a return of the Grand Coalition but the CSU might be able to
profile itself better in a coalition with the FDP, with whom it
squabbles in the CSU/FDP coalition in Bavaria. Within a future
national governing coalition, the CSU would advocate tax reductions,
more regional power in decision making, and arms-length EU
negotiations with Turkey. End Summary.

CSU - Kingmaker: Perhaps; Indispensable Partner: For Sure
---------------------------- ----------------------------

2. (SBU) The CSU, Europe's strongest regional party, is polling
consistently at around 46 to 48 percent of the vote in Bavaria, with
low-side polls at around 43 percent. A strong showing in Bavaria
could translate into seven percent of the overall national vote and
Chancellor Merkel is counting on such a good CSU result to boost the
CSU/CDU totals. Unless something totally unexpected happens on
polling day, the CSU can expect to be part of the next government
coalition, be it a continuation of the current Grand Coalition or a
CDU/CSU-FDP coalition (black-yellow), its declared goal. The CSU
will be the smallest partner of any coalition, however. CSU power
will depend in large part on how well the CSU does in relation to
the CDU. For example, in 2005, the CSU got 7.4 percent of the
national vote. This translated into 46 Bundestag mandates and two
ministerial posts.

CSU Aims High
-------------

3. (SBU) It seems certain that the CSU will not reach its
self-declared goal of 50-percent-plus in the Bavarian vote;
commentators and most honest CSU members know those days of absolute
majorities are gone. The latest poll from last week sees the CSU at
a respectable 46 percent, down two percent from its good 2009
European Parliament election result of 48.1 percent and down three
percent from its 2005 Bundestag election result. However, two
Consulate contacts, one a German Foreign Service officer and the
other an executive in the State Chancery, told us September 24 that
they believed 43 to 44 percent, at the lower polling ranges, was a
realistic estimate. Matching the devastating 43.4 percent showing
in the 2008 state election would be very bad news for Bavarian
Minister President and CSU party chairman Horst Seehofer and would
limit the CSU's influence in any future government coalition.

CSU Would Keep Minister Posts in a Grand Coalition
------------------------ -------------------------

4. (SBU) Most Bavarian commentators and insiders expect a renewal
of the current Grand Coalition, albeit in a weakened state that
might not survive the full legislative period. In a Grand
Coalition, nothing much would change as far as the CSU is concerned,
unless the party showed well at the top of its polling range, around
48 percent, and at the same time the CDU showed relatively weakly.
In this case, the CSU could even hope to get three ministerial
posts. In a Grand Coalition, the two CSU Federal Ministers,
Economics Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and Agriculture
Minister Ilse Aigner, would probably retain their portfolios. If
the CSU wins only 43 percent, at the bottom of its polling range,
this could undercut its power in coalition discussions. Still, the
CSU would most likely retain two Ministerial posts.

A CSU-FDP Coalition Could be Tense but Good for CSU
------------------------ --------------------------

5. (SBU) Despite the recent friction between the CSU and FDP over
economic issues, a black-yellow coalition could offer the CSU better
chances to get what it wants. The CSU would be relatively stronger
in a black-yellow coalition than in a grand coalition. This could
bring a third CSU Ministerial post and better chances to achieve
platform goals such as income tax cuts. A black-yellow coalition
would probably lead to a different Ministerial makeup, particularly
in view of the FDP's likely claim on the Economics Ministry.

COMMENT
-------

MUNICH 00000250 002 OF 002

6. (SBU) In any coalition, the CSU would advocate tax reform,
greater subsidiarity in EU matters, and arms-length negotiations
with Turkey, with which the CSU advocates "privileged partnership"
and not full EU membership. With MP Seehofer, the CSU would also
continue to pursue social issues, and with the FDP, the CSU would be
pulled to sharpening its profile as the "conservative party with a
social conscience," based on Seehofer's populist leanings. There
are also important differences between CSU and FDP plans for tax
reform, which could be a source of strain. The reflected glory from
having the FDP in the federal coalition could strengthen them in
Munich at the expense of the CSU. At the same time, local CSU-FDP
tensions could transfer to Berlin if MP Seehofer chose to go that
route.

7. (U) Consulate General Munich coordinated this report with
Embassy Berlin

8. (U) Track Munich reporting at
http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Germ any.

TRIBBLE

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