Embattled Edmund Stoiber steps downs

18th January 2007, Comments 0 comments

18 January 2007, Munich (dpa) - Embattled Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber, 65, a key powerbroker in German national politics who has withstood weeks of attacks from within his Christian Social Union (CSU) party, announced plans to retire Thursday. Ending a crisis that had threatened to undermine Chancellor Angela Merkel's federal government, he said in Munich he would step down as premier of the prosperous south-east German state of Bavaria on September 30 and give up the CSU leadership around the same tim

18 January 2007

Munich (dpa) - Embattled Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber, 65, a key powerbroker in German national politics who has withstood weeks of attacks from within his Christian Social Union (CSU) party, announced plans to retire Thursday.

Ending a crisis that had threatened to undermine Chancellor Angela Merkel's federal government, he said in Munich he would step down as premier of the prosperous south-east German state of Bavaria on September 30 and give up the CSU leadership around the same time.

The CSU is a sister party to Merkel's Christian Democrats which only operates on Bavarian soil, but provides key votes in Berlin.

"It was important to me to act at the proper moment for the sake of Bavaria and the CSU," Stoiber told a Munich news conference.

Party insiders said senior CSU figures had agreed to nominate Guenther Beckstein, 63, the state's interior minister, as new premier in October, while the Bavarian minister of the economy, Erwin Huber, 60, would be nominated for the party leadership.

However rivals denied this was a done deal and Stoiber said he would meet senior CSU figures on Friday to discuss the succession.

Beckstein said at a party conference in Wildbad Kreuth, an Alpine resort: "There has been no decision. Anything else is speculation."

Beckstein, a folksy lawyer, has won national prominence in Germany by applying tough law and order policies, deporting foreigners with criminal convictions, but has also been praised for fairness and for participating in demonstrations against racism and neo-Nazis.

CSU officials had pressed Stoiber, who has been premier since 1993, to step down amid concern that his previous popularity had slumped, threatening the party at the polls. There were also fears of instability in the Merkel coalition government in Berlin.

Stoiber's ratings began to decline in November 2005 when he abandoned plans to become a federal minister in Berlin, disappointing supporters who had hoped to see him become chancellor some day after narrowly losing in a 2002 match with incumbent Gerhard Schroeder.

The centre-right CSU has power greater than its presence in only one of Germany's 16 states would suggest, since the Christian Democrats are reluctant to adopt policies without backing from the smaller partner.

A month ago, the first call for Stoiber to resign came from a minor up-country woman CSU official, Gabrielle Pauli.

The disclosure of an attempt by a Stoiber aide to find embarrassing information about her led to an outcry.

DPA

Subject: German news

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