Merkel looks to Bavarian poll for election day boost


German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left) and Bavarian State Premier Horst Seehofer shake hands during an election campaign event of the German Christian Social Union Party (CSU) in Miesbach, southern Germany, on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila). AFP PHOTO

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives are gunning for a decisive win when wealthy Bavaria goes to the polls on Sunday to help propel her to a third term in the national election a week later.

Bavaria’s ruling Christian Social Union (CSU), the sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), has long relied on a winning strategy of “laptops and lederhosen,” pairing high-tech business savvy with cherished tradition.

That will by all accounts drive it once again to victory, and possibly to an absolute majority of seats in the regional parliament, providing Merkel with essential momentum for the September 22 poll.

But political scientist Jens Walther of the University of Duesseldorf warned that even if the CSU wins a respectable 43 percent—its score at the last state election in 2008—, it would be “a horrible result for the conservatives and that would of course put a damper” on its general election chances.

Merkel’s CDU is the clear favorite to win the national vote with an around 14-point lead in polls over the main opposition Social Democrats. But a continuation of her center-right coalition is far less certain.

Thus a strong showing in Bavaria with its 9.5 million eligible voters can provide a vital boost to Merkel.

The CSU has ruled Bavaria uninterrupted for 56 years.

The folksy party can expect to win between 46 percent and 48 percent of the vote in a state blessed with rich farmland, the Alps and powerhouse companies such as BMW, Audi and Siemens, polls indicate.



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