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CSU and Free Voters begin coalition talks in Bavaria

Three days after the state elections in Bavaria, the CDU and Free Voters have begun talks to form a coalition.

CSU and Free Voters begin coalition talks in Bavaria
Markus Söder at a CSU press conference in Munich on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Led by party leaders Horst Seehofer and Hubert Aiwanger, the conservative CSU and center to center-right Free Voters are looking to lay down the groundwork for possible coalition negotiations.

SEE ALSO: Comment: Political earthquake in Bavaria? No, but Germany is still shaking things up

For most of their 73-year history, the CSU have single-handedly governed Bavaria, but after an unprecedented low result of 37.2 percent in Sunday’s elections, are now looking for a coalition partner.

They don’t have any time to waste. “Let's get started now,” Seehofer said on Wednesday when he arrived at the state parliament in Munich.

Discussions with the Greens, who won around 17 percent of the vote, are planned for the afternoon. Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) stressed that he was “optimistic about the talks”.

'We'll manage'

As in the past few days, Aiwanger was confident that the two parties could reach an agreement quickly. “We'll manage,” he said, pointing out that the parties have been working towards this for years. The Free Voters of Bavaria, founded in 1978, have not yet been in a coalition with a major party.

Directly after the exploratory talks with both the Free Voters and the Greens, the CSU wants to decide with which party it wants to start coalition negotiations.

It remains to be seen how much time both the Greens and Free Voters will need to speak out for – or against – coalition negotiations. The Free Voters could vote on it at their party conference on October 27th.

SEE ALSO: The winners and losers: 7 things you need to know about the Bavarian elections

Söder and Seehofer had repeatedly stressed over the past few days that they sympathize more with an alliance with the Free Voters, whose major issues span the political spectrum – from stricter border controls to a push for greater renewable energies – but who encompass more conservative viewpoints.

However, the Free Voters also campaign for social issues, such as free daycare for families.

With the Greens, for example, the CSU's sees considerable differences in content in the areas of domestic politics and environmental protection.

It is also unclear whether the SPD, who snagged a historically low 9.7 percent of the vote, would still be prepared to meet with the CSU for exploratory talks – which their leadership board wants to discuss on Sunday, reported DPA. This option would only come into effect if talks with Greens and Free Voters failed.

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POLITICS

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has sued the German parliament for removing some of his official post-retirement perks over his links to Russian energy giants, his lawyer said Friday.

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Schröder, 78, has come under heavy criticism for his proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin and involvement with state-backed energy companies.

The decision to suspend Schröder’s taxpayer-funded office and staff in May was “contrary to the rule of law”, Michael Nagel, told public broadcaster NDR.

Schröder “heard of everything through the media”, Nagel said, noting that the Social Democrat had asked for a hearing before the budget committee responsible but was not given the chance to express himself.

READ ALSO: Germany strips Schröder of official perks over Russia ties

Schröder’s lawyers filed the complaint with an administrative Berlin court, a spokesman for the court confirmed.

In its decision to strip him of the perks, the committee concluded that Schröder, who served as chancellor from 1998 to 2005, “no longer upholds the continuing obligations of his office”.

Most of Schröder’s office staff had already quit before the final ruling was made.

Despite resigning from the board of Russian oil company Rosneft and turning down a post on the supervisory board of gas giant Gazprom in May, Schröder has maintained close ties with the Kremlin.

The former chancellor met Putin in July, after which he said Moscow was ready for a “negotiated solution” to the war in Ukraine — comments branded as “disgusting” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Last week, the Social Democrats concluded that Schröder would be allowed to remain a member after he was found not have breached party rules over his ties to the Russian President.

Schröder’s stance on the war and solo diplomacy has made him an embarrassment to the SPD, which is also the party of current Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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