Bavaria Election Sunday: Turbulent Times for Merkel, What to Expect

A poor result for CSU could lead to CSU resignations or even a government collapse. Merkel might welcome the former.

As with German national polls, there are trends and peculiarities.

Diminishing Support for the "Union"

The obvious trend is diminishing support for the "union" CDU/CSU. They are sister parties where CSU only operates in Bavaria and CDU everywhere else but Bavaria.

Huge frictions have arisen over immigration policy. CSU is anti-immigration.

Poll Peculiarity

Since August, INSA consistently placed support for anti-immigration AfD at 14%. Wahlen consistently placed AfD support at 10%.

Which is correct? I don't know but the national pattern is the same except between INSA and Forza.

National Polls

Is INSA right or Forza? It matters but it could be neither.

Note that GMS and INSA are consistently in near-agreement adding weight to the belief that support for AfD is a bit better than averages indicate.

German Conservatives Lose Their Fizz

The BBC reports German Conservatives Lose Their Fizz.

The basis is a set of polls by INSA.

The surge in Green support in Bavaria is even greater than the surge for AfD.

Impact on Merkel

DW explains Why the Bavarian Election Matters for Angela Merkel.

Whatever happens in Bavaria's election on Sunday, it promises to be a bellwether for German, or even European, politics for years to come.

At one level, the regional election will act as the next Angela Merkel litmus test, a series that has been going on for several years and is supposed to illustrate the relentless decline of the chancellor's popularity. This election happens to be the station between the loss of her chief whip in the Bundestag last month, another regional election in Hesse later this month, and her planned re-election as Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader in December.

Though, of course, the immediate impact of Bavaria on Merkel's standing will be limited. Thanks to a quirk in the conservative section of Germany's political spectrum, the chancellor is not part of the Christian Social Union (CSU) which governs the affluent southern state, even though her CDU has been allied to the Bavarian conservatives since their foundation. Not only that, but she was summarily excluded from the CSU's election campaign, which will make it hard for her enemies to blame her if there's a disastrous result for the CSU.

What to Expect? Anything

The CSU's failure could lead to Seehofer's resignation from Merkel's government, and conceivably Söder's exit from the Bavarian state premiership, which would remove two of the chancellor's most outspoken critics from power, and give her room to govern in the calmer, crisis-free manner she is accustomed to.

On the other hand, a heavy loss and big resignations in the CSU might well push a desperate party in a more volatile, abrasive direction at the national level. That would further antagonize the SPD, the center-left junior partners in Merkel's coalition, themselves desperate for a new direction and already impatient with Seehofer's destabilizing antics, and precipitate a break-up of the age-old CDU/CSU alliance, and therefore a break-up of Merkel's grand coalition. In short: Anything could happen after Sunday, up to and including Merkel's fall.

Increased Polarization

Increased polarization is apparent. CSU is losing voters to the far left (Greens) and far right (AfD).

SPD might very well come in fourth or even fifth place to FW, Free Voters of Bavaria, a party based on Social liberalism, Environmentalism, and Centrism. FW does not appear to be active or have much support outside Bavaria.

CSU leader Horst Seehofer nearly scuppered Mrs Merkel's coalition government twice - by insisting on a cap on the number of people seeking asylum in Germany and then pushing plans to turn people away at the borders, in defiance of the German chancellor.

Bottom line as noted above: Anything could happen after Sunday, up to and including Merkel's fall.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (2)
No. 1-2
RonJ
RonJ

"Bottom line as noted above: Anything could happen after Sunday..."

Yes, the world is not a very happy place right now.

Yancey_Ward
Yancey_Ward

The grand coalitions between CDU/CSU and SPD is causing the base of all three parties to leave for the more authentic opposition parties. Here you see people abandoning SPD for the Green Party, and you see people abandoning CSU for AfD and the Free Party. Eventually the uni-party will wither away if they don't stop forming grand coalitions like this.