Merkel supporters weakened in Bavarian municipal polls

3rd March 2008, Comments 0 comments

The CDU’s sister party had been dominant in Bavaria since 1957,

Munich -- Chancellor Angela Merkel's Bavarian ally, the Christian Social Union (CSU), suffered setbacks Sunday in municipal elections in the southern German state, which it has ruled since 1957.

Two Social Democrat (SPD) incumbents won the mayoralties of the biggest cities in Bavaria, Munich and Nuremberg, with increased majorities, early results showed.

The poll was viewed as a first test for Guenther Beckstein, the CSU premier of Bavaria, and the party leader, Erwin Huber, who took over the top positions five months ago, succeeding long-time leader Edmund Stoiber.

They are expected to return to power at state-assembly elections scheduled for late September.

However, any diminution of support for the CSU is news after their half a century of power in the conservative state. The CSU visibly lost urban support Sunday in the big cities, which are SPD islands in a CDU sea.

Christian Ude, the Munich mayor, gained 2 percentage points to win 67 percent to a CSU challenger's 25 percent, exit polls said. Nuremberg SPD incumbent Ulrich Maly gained 8 points to 64 percent in provisional results.

Merkel's party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has no organization in Bavaria and treats the CSU as its "sister party," pursuing mostly the same policies and forming a joint caucus in federal politics.

In a first comment, Bavarian Environment Minister Otmar Bernhard said his party's setback in the mayoral races reflected a turn of sentiment nationally against the CDU and CSU, with the climate for both "not so good."

A detailed tally from the many municipalities and counties was not expected for several days. In 2002, the CSU took 46 percent of the local-body votes to the SPD's 25 percent.

DPA with Expatica

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