Merkel disappointed at Bavarian losses

Other News Materials 30 September 2008 09:21 (UTC +04:00)

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that her governing conservatives must focus on the economy and education in the wake of a dramatic loss for her allies in Bavaria that could bode ill for her in national voting next year, AP reported.

Merkel said she shared the "disappointment" of Bavaria's Christian Social Union over its worst state election performance in 54 years on Sunday ї leaving it needing a coalition partner for the first time since 1962. Its share of the vote was down to 43 percent from 61 percent five years ago.

The CSU is the Bavaria-only sister party of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and traditionally an important source of conservative votes in national elections.

Merkel did not comment on the implications for her chances of securing a center-right majority when Germany votes next September.

However, she said that "with a view to the national election, we must ї above all with the issues of the economy, jobs, education and integration (of immigrants) ї do everything to give people prospects for the future."

The head of the Emnid polling institute, Klaus-Peter Schoeppner, said Sunday's mauling has raised "fear of a new election debacle in 2009" in Merkel's party.

As for the immediate future, Merkel pledged that her conservative bloc would be a "factor of stability" over coming months.

CSU leader Erwin Huber lamented that his party had enjoyed "no tail wind from federal politics" ї unlike in 2003, when his party was in opposition to an unpopular center-left government in Berlin.

The CSU helped build Bavaria into a wealthy high-tech center, but has suffered in recent years from unpopular school reforms, a messy change of leadership, a clumsily introduced smoking ban, losses at state-owned bank BayernLB, and fatigue over its long dominance.