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German Press Review: Payback Time for Stoiber

German newspapers on Monday focused on Chancellor Schröder’s stinging defeat in Bavarian elections over the weekend as premier Stoiber’s Christian Social Union surged to a landslide win in the mountainous state.


A triumphant Edmund Stoiber with wife Karin.

Germany’s largest selling daily, Bild recalled that a year ago to the day, Gerhard Schröder held on to the chancellor’s post by a whisker of a win in the national election. Yesterday it was payback time for his one-time challenger and Bavarian Premier, Edmund Stoiber as his Christian Social Union (CSU) pulverized Schröder’s Social Democrats in Bavaria, the paper wrote. Since the national polls, the Social Democrats are lurching from one election drama to the next, the paper wrote. The daily argued that this is because people just don’t understand what’s going on in the bumbling over reforms in Berlin and don’t trust the chancellor’s party to deal with upcoming problems.

The Munich-based Süddeutsche Zeitung noted that the CSU, which already controlled all power in Bavaria prior to the election, has strengthened its grip. The Social Democrats were eclipsed so badly one has to commiserate with them, the paper wrote. The CSU isn’t going to run amok with its power, the paper stressed, but Stoiber will be out to avenge last year’s national defeat.

Berlin’s Die Welt pointed out that Stoiber is naturally going to make all he can of his enormously increased leverage. All the obvious attempts to tie him into a debate about him becoming German president, a more or less purely ceremonial post, could not detract from his determination to shape the affairs of the country, the daily underlined. More than any other state election, the Bavarian one was one against Berlin, the paper wrote.

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote that in all German states political life might follow the brazen rules of modern democracies, the rise and fall, decay and renewal. But not in Bavaria. Here the CSU embodies for two generations the productive suspension of all political extremes and the successful reconciliation of differences, the paper wrote. The atmosphere and situation may be bad in Germany, but in Bavaria one believes since long that everything here is better than in any other state.

The Mannheimer Morgen saw Bavaria as having become the center of the opposition to the Social Democrat-Greens coalition in Berlin. The tune will now be set in Munich, the paper wrote. At a national level hardly anything will go without the state, and nothing at all will go against it.

The left-leaning Neue Ruhr/Neue Rhein-Zeitung of Essen argued that Stoiber can show whether he’s better at governing by the way he uses Bavaria’s votes in the Bundesrat, the second chamber of parliament whether the states co-determine national policy. It’s time for the two allied conservative parties, CDU and CSU, to put alternatives to government policy on the table, the paper wrote, saying it’s easy to criticize when one is electioneering.

The left-leaning Frankfurter Rundschau suggested that in part, Stoiber owes his win to Schröder and a federal government that gave potential Social Democrat voters no reason to interrupt their Sunday stroll by stopping off at the ballot box.