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Bavarian CSU swings right with new conservative manifesto

Entitled "Die Ordnung," the new manifesto outlines the CSU's conservative policy platform ahead of next year's general election. The policy addresses concern about migration, globalization and domestic security.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Bavarian ally, the Christian Social Union (CSU) party, will adopt a notably more conservative stand ahead of next year's general election, according to a new manifesto unveiled by the party on Saturday.

Entitled "Die Ordnung" ("Order"), the 42-page program, unveiled during the CSU conference in Munich, draws on the supposed German consensus for a "dominant culture," "strong state" and "limits and rules" concerning migration.

While CSU leader Horst Seehofer maintained that the party belongs in the middle of the political spectrum, "Die Ordnung" – which defines the party as a "conservative party for the future" with "Judaeo-Christian roots"- signals a formal swing to the right.

Markus Blume, CSU representative and one of the chief architects of the manifesto, justified the party's position on Saturday, saying that "Die Ordnung" serves as a conscious reaction to today's "great uncertainties and chaos."

The policy themes unveiled on Saturday concern Germany's migrant and refugee policy, globalization, digitalization and domestic security.

"Die Ordnung" formalizes many such CSU policies: Yes to a ceiling on asylum-seekers, no to dual-citizenship, a stronger state in response to terrorism (such as domestic deployment of the military), and clear barriers against political and religious Islam.

The term "Leitkultur," which refers to Germany's dominant or guiding culture, is also commonly found within the program, which according to the "Die Ordnung"  rejects "multicultural arbitrariness." The manifesto goes on to say that "those who live with us, must respect the "Leitkultur" of our country."

A strategic right-turn?

Seehofer praised the manifesto as a "defining moment for our party." According to the CSU head, it proved that the CSU had grown to become a "Volkspartei" - a title traditionally reserved for Germany's two largest parties, the CDU and Social Democratic Party (SPD) - whose influence extends beyond Bavaria.

The CSU's strategy is to enforce a more conservative platform within the union with its sister-party, Merkel's Christian Democratic Party (CDU). It therefore also aims to deter support for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. They vowed to uphold the guidelines of late CSU head Franz-Josef Strauss, who postulated: "There is no space for a democratically legitimate party to the right of the Union." 

Deutschland CSU Parteitag 2016 in München Horst Seehofer (picture-alliance/Sven Simon)

CSU leader Horst Seehofer addresses the CSU party conference on Saturday

While the CSU and CDU have historically been key allies, major discrepancies concerning Merkel's open-door policy for refugees have ruptured relations. The Bavarian party has often slammed Germany's refugee policy and called on the government to cap the number of incoming migrants to 200,000.

Merkel has so far rejected a limit on refugees. The chancellor has also avoided the CSU party conference in a bid to both avert hostility and repair relations.

Referring to next year's general election, Manfred Weber, the CSU's deputy leader, told the local "Passauer Neue Presse" newspaper on Saturday that "without a limit [on the intake of refugees], there will be no coalition with the CSU next year."

He stressed, however, that Merkel would still have the CSU's support for the Union's leadership should an agreement on migration be reached.

dm/rc (dpa, AFP)