Bloomberg: Merkel Ally Draws Red Line in Talks17 December 2017 | 03:54 | FOCUS News Agency
Horst Seehofer, the leader of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, told party delegates that he’ll stand by the conservative bloc’s values in coalition talks in Berlin. The CSU will struggle to preserve its absolute majority in the state legislature in the fall 2018 ballot after suffering losses in this year’s national election.
“We won’t negotiate anything that would hinder or hurt our state election campaign,” Seehofer, the Bavarian premier, told a party conference in the southern German city of Nuremberg on Saturday. “We won’t do anything that would disadvantage us in Bavaria.”
A day after Germany’s Social Democratic leaders agreed to enter exploratory talks with Merkel’s faction and end almost three months of political deadlock, Seehofer signaled that Bavaria’s election-year politics could throw a wrench into the process. As the SPD coaxes reluctant party members into a renewed coalition with Merkel, the rivals are likely to clash on issues such as migration, health care and spending.
Seehofer, who was also Merkel’s chief antagonist during the country’s refugee crisis, reiterated his proposal for a cap on migration, one rejected both by Merkel and the SPD. To loud applause by the delegates, the CSU chief said Germany “needs limits on migration so that our country’s capacity to integrate can work.”
Merkel’s bloc emerged victorious but weakened in the Sept. 24 election, not least because of heavy losses in the CSU’s Bavarian homeland, where resistance to Merkel’s open-door refugee policy lingered. The CSU has governed Bavaria continuously since 1957.
The election fallout triggered infighting within the CSU. Seehofer, 68, who was re-elected as party chairman with 84 percent support on Saturday, has agreed to hand over the Bavarian premiership to the state finance minister, Markus Soeder. Soeder, 50, will lead the 2018 state campaign as Seehofer stays on to negotiate in Berlin.
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