The elections in Bavaria are over. The Christian-Socialist Union (CSU) that has almost single-handedly led the province since WWII has suffered a historical setback. Bavarian politics has become more diverse and exciting – falling in line with federal-level German politics.
The result shows that well into the 21st century political and social monoculture has come to an end in Bavaria, too. It is no longer compulsory to wear both Lederhosen and a laptop, not by a long shot. The traditional world of the CSU, that has given Bavaria its political and economic model as well as its Leitkultur (German for core culture) is in retreat.
The Bavarian economic miracle which has lifted Bavaria from one of the poorest provinces to becoming one of the German economy’s engines is largely due to the CSU, but people no longer think they should thank the CSU for it.
As in larger German society, Bavaria has also undergone a major change over the past decades. The traditional Social Democrat grassroots are gone, ruling the Social Democratic Party (SPD) out of the big political leagues. But much the same is happening to the traditional CSU bases, which – surprisingly enough – may well lead Merkel’s Christian-Democratic Union (CDU) into the future.
Angela Merkel’s often-criticized pragmatic policies, total lack of ideology, her colorless, odorless and often soft-leftist and soft-green slogans have moved her party towards the center of the new German political scene and may have paved the way for an unavoidable role for the CDU for many years to come.
Merkel’s policies have achieved exactly what the CDU has been trying to avoid for a long time: they gave rise to a measurable force right of them. This has also shifted the CDU towards the center, making it even more unavoidable and making any attempt to form a leftist government so much more difficult.
The new German political landscape is an exact image of the new German social realities
This led to the dismantling of the old social and political formations, mass immigration, massive loss of religiousness, a steadily marching economy, the postmodern attitudes of the affluent and the growing frustrations of the disenfranchised.
The new Germany has arrived in Bavaria. One can rejoice or lament, but the country has been changed for good. New Germany is real and there is no turning back to jovial West Germany of Kohl, much less to the post-war miracle era of Adenauer. The present leaders of the old parties must thus adapt – the CSU will have to think in terms of a coalition (regional) government. But they will undoubtedly succeed, as they did in a mere two decades after total destruction.