Hacks, journalists, political vampires, and just plain writers may have only a few months remaining to use the collective Three M’s of European Politics. Not that May, Macron, and Merkel really hang out together, or agree on anything worth writing about…
My warning to alliteration-addicted wordsmiths comes as the state elections in Bavaria hurtle ever closer. The main (read: nigh-only) party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), is the sister party to Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU). The former only operates in Bavaria, the latter, everywhere else in Germany. The two parties are collectively known as The Union, which does nothing to ease the understanding of European politics, or CDU/CSU, which is as equally taxing. The nearest thing we know to is would be of the current partnership between the UK Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
With the election of the two populist parties in Italy, and Austria’s hard-right government celebrating its first year in office under Sebastian Kurz, CSU leader (and German Interior Minister) Horst Seehofer, has come felt there are now enough allies in power across Europe that oppose the refugee policies of Merkel. After a meeting today between Chancellor Kurz and Seehofer, the Austrian leader tweeted that “an axis of the willing” was needed to prevent illegal migration through Albania.
Seehofer has also been strengthening this alliance with Matteo Salvini, who Deputy Prime Minister of Italy, Interior Minister, and leader of the far-right Northern League party, who on Monday denied a boat with over 600 refugees access and asylum in Italy.
While “The Union” (the two parties) would never break apart, the CSU does have considerable within the government. Knowing that there would be no possible way to govern Germany alone (ideologically, arithmetically, or geographically) it also knows that the CDU cannot hope to be a governing party without the monolithic party of Germany’s largest and richest state. To sabotage the Union would be bad for all involved, but if a successor were waiting in the wings…
No, it wouldn’t be Seehofer – the for the reasons I have described: the CSU really only speaks for Bavaria. The timing is somewhat coincidental: as I mentioned earlier, there is to be a state election in Bavaria in October, and while the CSU have won all but two elections in the southern state in its electoral history, there is also a unique moment for Seehofer and the CSU to push their agenda through the media without other elections to contend with, and know that they could most likely win comfortably, while also seeing off any threat from the upstart anti-migrant Alternativ Für Deutschland party.
So, is this just bluster? Or is this the start of Merkel’s political decline from most powerful woman in the world? I don’t think we’ll know until the results of the Bavarian State Election on the 14th of October.