AfD poised for Bavaria gains

AfD poised for Bavaria gains

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s right-of-centre Bavarian allies are braced for heavy losses in tomorrow’s election and appear poised to lose their parliamentary majority.

The Christian Social Union (CSU), which has ruled Bavaria almost continuously since the 1960s, is expected to lose its absolute majority.

Merkel has been excluded from the CSU’s election campaign, which will make it hard for her enemies to blame her if there is a disastrous result for the Bavarian party.

The CSU’s two main leaders, controversial Interior Minister and party leader Horst Seehofer and Bavarian premier Markus Söder, have both openly criticised Merkel’s immigration policy within the coalition. The CSU’s campaign ahead of tomorrow has been to move to the right to fight off the challenge from the Alternative for Germany (AfD). The AfD is polling at around 10 per cent in Bavaria, below its national average of 15 per cent, suggesting the CSU strategy might have had some success.

The other party in the national coalition with Merkel, the Social Democrat, is also set to lose out to the populist AfD, which looks certain to win state assembly representation.

The leftist Greens has doubled its poll ratings to around 18 per cent since the last state election, which would make it the second-largest party and might open the opportunity for a coalition with the CSU.

Polling predictions for Bavaria’s 10 million voters suggest another election will lead to the demise of the main parties two weeks before another unpredictable regional vote, in the central state of Hesse.

The CSU, the traditional ally to the CDU, has used a conservative brand of beerhall politics to control the state which is home to Siemens, BMW, Allianz and footballing giants Bayern Munich.

Since 1945, the CSU has only suffered mild dips, like its 2008 state election when it won 43 per cent, which proved a shock after 2003’s commanding 60 per cent.

It has offered economic stability and conservative values in the mainly Catholic state, promoting crucifixes in classrooms and the banning of the Islamic veil in public.

Greg Fuzesi of JPMorgan said the election would “set the tone for further CDU-CSU cooperation at the federal level and could put further pressure on Merkel herself”.

”A test could come at the CDU party conference in December when Merkel is likely to stand for re-election as leader of the CDU,” he told CNBC.

“At this stage, it is unlikely any high-profile candidate would run against her, but this will be another test of her authority.”

Bavaria has been at the sharp end of Angela Merkel’s immigration policy. Picture credit: IHA

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