German conservatives gear up for fall elections | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 18.07.2009
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Germany

German conservatives gear up for fall elections

Chancellor Merkel's (CDU) sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), is confident about the conservatives' chances in September's election; on Saturday, the CSU re-elected party chairman, Horst Seehofer.

CSU party chairman Horst Seehofer at his party's rally on Saturday

Seehofer sees a bright future for the CSU

Three quarters of a year after taking the reigns of the CSU, Seehofer is coming into his own as he and his party look to a future together with Merkel's CDU.

"The Christian Social Union can once again be confident," Seehofer told some 1000 party delegates at their annual rally in the southern German city of Nuremberg. In his speech, Seehofer pledged his support to Merkel's CDU, but, at the same time, stressed the independence of his party.

On Saturday, it was announced that Seehofer won re-election as CSU party chief with an almost 90 percent majority.

Coalition plans

Seehofer reiterated the conservatives' desire to build a federal coalition with the liberal Free Democrats. At federal elections on the 27th of September, Seehofer and Merkel are keen on a "black-yellow" coaltion, which represents a union of the conservatives and the liberals.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Horst Seehofer at a rally of the conservatives in June

Seehofer and Merkel are looking to the liberals to form a coalition

Seehofer warned the head of the Free Democrats, Guido Westerwelle, against not joining the conservatives on the "black-yellow" ticket ahead of the elections, saying it wouldn't be wise to pursue another alliance.

Election campaign

The CSU is pursuing an election campaign that diverges in key issues from that of Merkel's CDU. The central element of the CSU campaign is the lowering of income tax, which it has said it won't back down on.

Despite the ongoing crisis and the flurry of negative economic prognoses, the CSU believes significant tax cuts are necessary and feasible. The tax cuts, said Seehofer, would take effect by 2011.

Merkel's CDU, meanwhile, has rejected such ambitious plans.

Another controversial issue Seehofer addressed on Saturday was the CSU stance on the ratification of the European Union's Lisbon Treaty.

The CSU has called for the German parliament, the Bundestag, to have more of a say in European affairs. Seehofer says the CSU is not against ratifying the treaty, but rather for strengthening the national parliament on the European level.

"We're not about destruction; we don't want to blockade the treaty. We want to give Germany's houses of parliament a stronger presence. We want Europe to recognize what it is made of - and we want that our national parliament to have responsibility and be taken seriously."

glb/AP/Reuters/dpa

Editor: Andreas Illmer

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