Bavaria set to elect new premier after CSU poll setback
The German state of Bavaria was set Monday to elect a new premier, Horst Seehofer, 59, after the party he leads, the Christian Social Union (CSU), lost its absolute majority at the polls, reported dpa.
Seehofer resigned as German minister of agriculture and consumer affairs early Monday so he could take on the new post. Chancellor Angela Merkel has not announced yet who will replace him in her federal cabinet.
Merkel was present as German President Horst Koehler handed Seehofer a certificate of release from office.
Commentators said that as farm minister over the past years, he had notably managed to calm farmers' anger over weak milk prices and EU policy, although milk prices still remain weak.
In Munich, Seehofer is to rule in coalition with a smaller, pro-business party, the Free Democrats (FDP).
An accord was to be signed Monday with the FDP, which won seats in the Bavarian state assembly in a September 28 poll for the first time in 14 years, and is take over the economy and science ministries.
The two parties plan to partly relax a strict ban on smoking in bars, which was blamed by many for the CSU's loss of one third of its traditional support at the state election.
After the loss in support to just 43 per cent of ballots, the Bavaria-only CSU deposed both its former leader, Erwin Huber, and its state premier, Guenther Beckstein.
Seehofer is to take over both offices. He has promised to stand for Bavarian interests against Merkel.