- Announces CSU boss Horst Seehofer on the weekend to surrender the party chairmanship? He calls a corresponding media report a "fat duck".
- However, Seehofer could comment on his future after the swearing-in of the Bavarian cabinet next week.
- The momentum of the successor debate has shifted in favor of Markus Söder.
Horst Seehofer is accustomed to the hustle and bustle of his person, and one may also calmly assume that he is in principle not so wrong with a little bit of attention. Even if the media discussion is really only about the question of exactly when he resigns as CSU chief. Horst Seehofer is still here and already gone. That he could remain for a while Federal Interior Minister in Merkel's Cabinet sounds audacious, but can not be ruled out.
Of course, Seehofer does not want to look at the cards publicly. "That's a fat duck," he said on Wednesday afternoon world, after the Time had reported that he wanted to announce his retreat on the weekend. And Seehofer added, as always, when he finally commented on his future: "One step at a time."
Step by step, that means for Horst Seehofer: wait for several decisions before talking about your own future. The timetable for these decisions has been known since 15 October, the day after the state election. At that time, the CSU Board agreed to an orderly procedure. The plan envisaged that first the coalition negotiations in Bavaria be completed and Markus Söders re-elected as prime minister. Both have now happened.
Manfred Weber's candidacy should not be endangered
Next station: This Thursday the top candidate of the European People's Party (EPP) will be elected for the 2019 European elections. Seehofer himself traveled to Helsinki to support the CSU candidate, Party Vice Manfred Weber. The EPP lead candidate has the prospect of succeeding Jean-Claude Juncker as EU Commission President next year. Seehofer sees in Weber's application "a historic opportunity for the CSU". One does not want to jeopardize this chance through internal conflict.
On Sunday, the narrowest CSU leadership circle meets in the Munich party headquarters. Even the powerful district chairmen are present, some of them have already called for consequences from the poor performance in the state election. Formally, on Sunday, the preparation of the CSU for the European elections. Perhaps in this round, however, the future of the entire party will be discussed – so expect many participants. Is Seehofer ready to give up the CSU presidency prematurely? And if so, when? He is elected until autumn 2019.
Seehofer would have to offer his own resignation. At least it will do so publicly – not before Tuesday, as can be deduced from a sentence he said a few days ago: "He does not want to burden the Cabinet's ideas and swearing with other things." Söder wants to call his Bavarian Cabinet on Monday. What happens afterwards is up to Seehofer.
Who could succeed Seehofer on the party leadership? This question seemed to be on Weber for a long time. But two events have changed the dynamics – to Söder's favor: First there was the state election. The CSU score of 37.2 percent, considered sober, may be a disaster. However, it was received with relief in the party. They had already prepared for it to get worse. Many in the party count Söder his diligence in the election campaign and a degree of insight, which led to course corrections, for example in the asylum rhetoric. The CSU clings to the younger part of their leadership duo – and almost completely relinquishes responsibility for the older part, with Horst Seehofer.
After the Hesse election, a second factor was added that readjusted Söder's thinking about the party presidency: Angela Merkel's renunciation of the CDU chairmanship. Söder had always plausibly assured that he was not eager to sit around the table with party leader Merkel. But he would not have to do that now – on the side of Friedrich Merz, for example, he might even feel very well. Söder's mentor Edmund Stoiber is in any case of the opinion that the offices of the Prime Minister and the CSU chief belong in one hand. Söder, one hears from the party, is now ready.
The Christian-liberal CSU wing would much prefer a party leader Weber, his biggest advocates are Theo Waigel, Alois luck and Erwin Huber. A double point with the Prime Minister Söder, they say, would again reflect the whole width of the CSU. And even from the Söder camp it says: If the popular weaver had lifted his hand shortly after the state election – no one could have denied him the head chair. But Weber did not raise his hand. For him, another executive chair has priority – the one in the European Commission. The CSU chairmanship could have been a burden for him in the EPP internal race for the top candidate. And if he really became EU Commission President, he would probably have to give up the presidency anyway.
If Seehofer really prematurely cede in favor of a successor, this would have to happen on a special party, as several district councils had already demanded. As appointment in the party is called the 8th of December – one day after the new elections at the sister party CDU. For Seehofer that would probably be a last, small triumph: He would have survived his eternal rival Angela Merkel as party leader for one day politically. It can not be ruled out that he will remain in the cabinet of Merkel for a while.