All eyes have been on German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and his CSU's poor showing in Bavaria's state election. Seehofer has now signaled his willingness to step down, but not for the reasons many would think.
One week after the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) saw a record-low result in Bavaria's state election, party head Horst Seehofer suggested on Sunday for the first time that he might resign from his post.
Seehofer, who also holds the post of interior minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet, has been facing rising calls to resign from within his own party over the election results.
Speaking on a talk show aired by public broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk, Seehofer said he'd rather step down than take the sole blame for the Bavarian election result.
"I won't play the scapegoat again. You can criticize me, but to reduce it all to Horst Seehofer and make him responsible for everything, I personally will not go along with that," Seehofer said.
"Instead, I will make my position as party leader available; I do not think you can express it more clearly," he added.
Uncertain political future
In last week's state election, support for the CSU dropped 10 percentage points, which resulted in the party losing its absolute majority in the state parliament.
Seehofer has sought to avert blame for Bavaria's election to Premier Markus Söder and others in the party, but many view Seehofer's hardline stances on immigration and asylum policy as the source for the party's woes in the polls.
The CSU head said the current criticism of his performance bore echoes of the criticism he received following Germany's federal elections in 2017, which saw the CSU lose 10 seats in Germany's parliament.
"During the general election I was neither a leading candidate nor did I make a [campaign] appearance anywhere. After the election, the results were pinned on me — [with people saying] now he has to step down as state premier. I caved to them," Seehofer said.
Seehofer did, indeed, resign from his post as Bavaria's state premier following the 2017 election. However, he retained his post as the leader of the CSU and won a big concession for his party during coalition talks with Merkel by taking over the Interior Ministry.
In last year's federal election, the CSU bled support to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). Seehofer's attempts to win back voters by digging his heels in on the issue of migration not only nearly toppled Merkel's government this summer, but also caused the party to lose voters to the Greens and others in the center-left during last week's state election.