Cablegate: Baden-Wuerttemberg Minister-President to Step Down

Published: Thu 28 Oct 2004 01:30 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Baden-Wuerttemberg Minister-President To Step Down
in 2005; State Minister Palmer Resigns
REF: A) 03 Frankfurt 10353, B) Frankfurt 5551, C) Frankfurt
6002, D) Frankfurt 6769, E) Frankfurt 7197, F) Frankfurt
Sensitive but unclassified; not for internet distribution.
1. (U) SUMMARY: Baden-Wuerttemberg (B-W) Minister President
Erwin Teufel announced October 25 that he will relinquish
the offices of Minister-President and CDU state chairman as
of April 2005. Strife over designating a successor will
complicate local politics and life for the national CDU.
Baden-Wuerttemberg State Minister Christoph Palmer resigned
after a physical altercation with CDU Bundestag member
Joachim Pfeiffer during an argument over Teufel's future.
2. (U) Baden-Wuerttemberg Minister-President Teufel (CDU /
Christian Democrats) announced at an October 25 press
conference that he would step down as minister-president and
state party chairman as of April 19, 2005. Teufel will
retain his mandate in the Baden-Wuerttemberg state
parliament until the end of the legislative period (May
2006). His decision follows months of infighting and
pressure on Teufel to make way for new leadership (reftels).
At the press conference, Teufel insisted that his decision
to retire was personal and voluntary, noting that "it would
be unbearable for me if the B-W citizens gain the impression
that I am glued to my chair."
3. (SBU) At the same press conference, State Minister
Christoph Palmer announced his resignation following a
physical altercation with CDU Bundestag representative
Joachim Pfeiffer at a weekend election event for Stuttgart
Lord Mayor Wolfgang Schuster (re-elected October 24 with
53.3% of the vote). At the event, Palmer angrily confronted
Pfeiffer over his participation in a Bundestag caucus straw
poll against Teufel (ref F), striking the Bundestag member
twice in the face. At the press conference the following
day, Palmer took responsibility for the scuffle and tendered
his immediate resignation. NOTE: Palmer -- until now
regarded as a rising force within the B-W CDU -- oversaw
relations with the U.S. (including U.S. forces) in his role
as head of the State Chancellery. END NOTE.
4. (SBU) Teufel's resignation is the result of months of
controversy and mud-slinging which have hampered the
political process in Baden-Wuerttemberg (reftels). The
succession debate is focused on two contenders: State
Minister of Culture and Education Annette Schavan and CDU
caucus chief Guenther Oettinger. Although Teufel has hinted
publicly at support for Schavan, Oettinger enjoys the public
backing of most other groups within the state party. In an
October 25 meeting with CG, State Secretary Rudolf Boehmler
opined that while Oettinger has a strong base within the
party, Schavan has a higher public profile as state
education minister since 1995. The two contenders have
agreed to put the question to the CDU membership in state-
wide balloting. Public opinion polls give Oettinger a small
lead (favored by 22% of those polled, versus 16% for
Schavan) but the majority of the public remains undecided.
Internet polls in the wake of Teufel's announcement gave
Oettinger a wider popular lead of 17 to 20 points.
5. (U) With the succession question still open -- and likely
to play out in the coming days -- state politics in Baden-
Wuerttemberg will remain in flux for the near future.
Moreover, the decision to poll the party membership has
created a furor within the local and national CDU and with
the CSU, further complicating the party's efforts to resolve
intra- and extra-mural strife in advance of the CSU and CDU
party conventions in mid-November and early December. END
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