At the CSU party congress, four weeks before the state election, party leader Seehofer and leading candidate Söder are facing an extremely tense CSU.
Söder can inspire the delegates with his speech, Seehofer hardly seems to mourn anyone in Bavaria.
The Federal Minister of the Interior unsettled the party with its unilateral actions; on this Saturday he renounces provocations.
"From my point of view, the CSU is quite passable at the beginning of the election campaign." If the CSU were a normal party, one could almost interpret this sentence as modest. Four weeks before the Bavarian state election, the party comes in the latest survey of the BR-Bavaria trend to 35 percent – quite passable. But the CSU is not a normal party. And the value is anything but passable. That this sentence comes on Saturday morning from the mouth of Horst Seehofer, does not make things better. Seehofer is not as Federal Interior Minister at the party congress in Munich, but as CSU chairman. Together with Prime Minister Markus Söder, the party leader is to get the party in the right mood for the election campaign: smoothing out the waves of recent weeks, demonstrating common ground and mobilizing the CSU delegates. Whether that can succeed?
In fact, the mood in the CSU is tense as never before. First it was the energy of the new prime minister, which strained the minds of the party members. Immediately after taking office in April, Söder began to deliver: a billion-dollar 100-point plan, the crucifixion, tightened asylum ethic. This has overrun some CSUler.
Then there was party leader Seehofer, who at the same time held his own agenda from the Federal Ministry of the Interior, an agenda that was soon no longer even comprehensible to him. Keyword "withdrawal from the resignation".
Four weeks before the election, the starting point for the CSU is just as difficult as the relationship between their two alpha men. That's why everything is at the party congress. Many CSU members at the base do not really want to expect anything more and expect the maximum: that their party leadership finally gathers together and makes proper policy.
Söder gets the bigger applause
As soon as you move into the large circular hall of Munich's Postpalast, it becomes clear who the delegates are more weighed. While Seehofer gets more propitious applause, is slapped for Söder properly in the hands. That's also true, but not only because of the many younger people with the "Team Söder" T-shirts, who walk around everywhere and take care of organizational matters.
Before the top candidate is allowed to speak at the lectern, it is Horst Seehofer's turn. Does he join in the harmony game? At the common cause? Seehofer has never raised a doubt that he only wants the best for Bayern. It is unclear, however, whether all of them in the CSU imagine something similar.
At least Seehofer plays along this Saturday. "Thank you dear Markus, you have not been beaten by anyone, in your commitment to our country," he begins his speech and continues to thank Söder later, while he plows various topics. He does not stick with exaggerated modesty. "Thank you for the progressive policy," says Seehofer. And: "When you reach the highest level, it's incredibly hard to be even better." The Federal Interior Minister renounced provocations. Proven crisp sayings on asylum policy: yes. New crisp quotes: no.
"Franz Josef Strauss would fight this AfD"
Provoke on the issue of asylum policy? The CSU? At the congress both Söder and his predecessor are holding back. Seehofer as prime minister apparently no longer mourn the delegates.
By Ingrid Fuchs
For the delegates, the speech seems to meet with approval in large parts, but the CSU leader does not trigger enthusiasm. The impression that Prime Minister Seehofer is no longer being mourned in the party is reinforced when his successor takes the stage. From the first word Söder is passionate. He has never lacked any zest for action, and he can be felt in the post office as well. Söder has prepared a comprehensive speech. In terms of content, he does not go any further into the election program – an eleven-page paper titled "Yes to Bavaria". He started distributing everything to everyone in April and did not miss any money when distributing it. On stage he begins with the uncertain world politics and works his way to his own promises, defends the Bavarian inventions care and family benefits, pays homage to the Bavarian singular, large, yes, the whole Rundumadumartigkeit. Because the Free State is good at practically everything and it is nowhere better. And that is exactly what Söder wants to emphasize in the campaign final sprint – to show at the same time what the CSU has done right.
In fact, Söder and his previous speakers Seehofer and Secretary-General Markus Blume are quite right that Bavaria in the world, Europe and Germany comparison is pretty good. Economically, financially, socially – and it is beautiful here too. But why is it that people do not notice it anymore? Or only see the bad?
Söder sees part of the media's responsibility as too negative and over-reporting. Social media, too, are guilty, filter bubbles nowadays create moods that no one can influence. And the AfD also contributes to this – which supplies the media material and fill the filter bubbles themselves with content.
That sounds like the CSU is innocent of the negative mood. It is also the rhetoric of the party in the asylum policy, the people insecure. For a long time the CSU tried to make the AfD superfluous by its own politics, without dealing with it. Since the incidents in Chemnitz Söder is different with the right-wing populist party, condemns them hard.
One of the biggest concerns of the Bavarian Prime Minister is according to the latest survey a state parliament with seven political groups. "Left-wing party, right-wing extremists, a completely fragmented party system. If this trend were to be confirmed, then we will experience a Bavaria that is no longer the same as before." Nevertheless, Söder does not want to think aloud about possible coalition partners at the party congress. First of all, one must "fight, fight, fight" until the election on October 14th.
Söder's message arrives at the delegates, even though some package it rather pragmatically and praise the fact that the party convention has expired faster than usual, but "the speech was not bad either". After today's performance, Söder and Seehofer are relieved that they can tolerate each other and that they have a common goal: to save the CSU from normality. The Prime Minister apparently also takes it so personally: "I've never seen a party under such pressure act so closed – thank you." But when did this party ever come under such pressure?