Bavarian Party Chairman Resigns After Disastrous Election | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 30.09.2008
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Bavarian Party Chairman Resigns After Disastrous Election

After the worst election showing in half a century, Bavaria's Christian Social Union party chairman Erwin Huber has said he will resign.

Erwin Huber

Under Huber, the CSU lost its long-standing absolute majority in Bavaria

Huber announced Tuesday that he will step down as CSU chairman at a special party conference on Oct. 25.

"The CSU needs to cope with a difficult election result," Huber told journalists in Munich on Tuesday, Sept. 29. "I will vacate my post as CSU leader, to give the party the opportunity for a new beginning."

According to party sources, senior CSU leaders had decided at a crisis meeting on Monday that current party Vice-Chairman and German Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Minister Horst Seehofer should replace Huber.

CSU General Secretary Christine Haderthauer is also expected to leave, while state Premier Guenther Beckstein will reportedly keep his job. It had been speculated that the party's hefty losses in Sunday's state election would cost Beckstein his post as well.

News of the shifts in party leadership comes after the CSU, traditionally Bavaria's sole ruling party, lost 17.3 percent of its share of the votes. Left with only 43.4 percent, the CSU -- Bavaria's sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union -- fell short of a majority and will be forced to form a coalition government.

Analysts have said that the outcome could hurt Merkel's chances of retaining power in federal elections scheduled for September 2009.

Seehofer won't have it easy

Seehofer, who is expected to take a more confrontational approach toward Merkel and her Christian Democrats (CDU),said on Tuesday he is ready to draw lessons from his party's electoral drubbing.

"We will revive classical conservative issues such as economic policy, social responsibility and the preservation of national as well as conservative values," the 59-year-old moderate said in Berlin. "At the same time we will open up the party to issues such as the ecology and the protection of the consumer."

German Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Minister Horst Seehofer with Chancellor Angela Merkel

Seehofer, left, is expected to come under pressure from his party to confront Merkel

About a year ago Seehofer narrowly lost his bid for the CSU chairmanship to Erwin Huber. He was criticized in conservative quarters after he'd admitted to having a child with his mistress.

CSU party members now regard him as a savior and would like him to replace the hapless Bavarian state premier Günther Beckstein.

But political analyst Gerd Langguth believes that Seehofer's return to Munich won't be easy. Seehofer is "a charismatic figure" and "a political heavyweight," Langguth said.

"But he lacks all out support among the local conservatives in Munich after spending so many years in Berlin. Everything is possible considering the desperate situation the party is presently in."

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