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1ST LEAD Merkel's Bavarian allies recruit Austria's Kurz in final poll push By Friederike Heine, dpa

Europe
12.10.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Munich (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s Bavarian sister party, the arch-conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), was set to bring Austria‘s Sebastian Kurz to Munich on Friday for support at its final campaign event ahead of a fateful state election.

CSU chief Horst Seehofer, who also serves as interior minister in Merkel‘s federal government, Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder and the Austrian chancellor were due to attend a CSU rally at a beer hall in the state capital at 6 pm (1600 GMT).

Kurz has been an ally to the CSU in its campaign to tighten controls at the border between Bavaria - Germany‘s southernmost state - and Austria, and has also supported Seehofer in his push for stricter immigration politicies at the national level.

A poll released on Thursday showed the CSU - which held an absolute majority in Bavaria for decades - falling below 33 per cent of the vote, with the environmentalist Greens coming in second with an 18.5-per-cent vote share.

Seehofer‘s hardline stance on immigration brought the CDU-CSU alliance to the brink of collapse earlier this year, so the Bavarian poll is also being interpreted partly as a referendum on Seehofer‘s contentious role in national politics.

Merkel on Friday declined to comment on whether the poll could destabilize her government, saying that her conservative bloc was experiencing "difficult times" and that she hoped for a good result for the CSU.

The CSU‘s decline comes amid a surge in support for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which, according to the Civey poll, is set to capture 12.8 per cent of the vote.

A lower vote share for the CSU is likely to force the party to seek a coalition partner for the first time. Though a majority of Bavarians have expressed as their preference a CSU-Greens coalition, Soeder all but ruled out that option on Friday.

 

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