Bavaria's Social Democrats have caused an uproar at the start of the state election campaign by buying the internet domain of the ruling party's slogan. The CSU accused the SPD of dirty tactics and spreading "fake news."
The Christian Social Union (CSU) in Bavaria was scrambling to contain the damage on Wednesday after the party's main slogan was set up online by the opposition Social Democrats (SPD).
Bavarian Premier Markus Söder of the CSU is campaigning with the message "Söder macht's" or "Söder gets it done." The slogan is printed in bold capital letters on billboards showing Söder smiling in traditional dress. But the website with that same name — soeder-machts.de — isn't from the CSU at all.
Söder and his campaign team apparently failed to secure the domain name — an oversight that didn't go unnoticed by the center-left SPD. They not only bought the website, they also beat the CSU to creating Söder macht's Facebook and Twitter accounts.
A PR coup
"It's really basic knowledge that you have to secure this," Bavarian SPD spokesman Ino Kohlmann said. "We were amazed that the CSU was so sloppy."
The Söder macht's website lists 10 reasons why voters should reject the CSU, the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, before directing them to the website of Bavarian SPD candidate Natascha Kohnen.
"32,000 public apartments sold to private investors, leaving 80,000 tenants out in the rain," the website says. "Thousands of employed teachers let go at the end of the school year...that's what Markus Söder gets done."
CSU: Irresponsible stunt
CSU General Secretary Markus Blume described the SPD domain purchase and use as irresponsible, and little more than "slapstick" and dirty politics.
The party must be desperate "if they have to steal CSU slogans," he said. "An opposition that preaches political decency, but uses its first campaign action to spread false news is barely credible."
The CSU, however, responded by securing a number of domains, including derechtesoedermachts.de ("the real Söder macht's"), spdmachtnix.de ("SPD does nothing") and kohnenplus.de — all of which lead to Söder's campaign platform.
"Now kohnenplus.de also informs about the CSU's government policies," the CSU wrote in one of a series of sarcastic tweets posted on Tuesday.
Another said: "Thank you, dear Bavarian SPD, for sharing the CSU's policies on kohnen-plus.de! How nice of you! #soedermachts."
The CSU will be hoping to hold on to its absolute majority in the state parliament when Bavarian voters head to the polls October 14. According to a recent Forsa survey, the governing party is polling at around 37 percent, followed by the Greens on 17 percent, the far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) on 13 percent and the SPD on 12 percent.