Cablegate: A Polarizing Conservative Takes Charge in Southwest Germany:

Published: Thu 11 Feb 2010 12:43 PM
DE RUEHFT #0564/01 0421244
R 111243Z FEB 10
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: A Polarizing Conservative Takes Charge in Southwest Germany:
Stefan Mappus elected B-W Minister President
1. (SBU)SUMMARY: On February 10, the Baden-Wuerttemberg (B-W)
state parliament elected Christian Democrat Union (CDU) caucus
chief Stefan Mappus as Germany's youngest Minister President.
Mappus succeeds Guenther Oettinger, who was elected EU Commissioner
for Energy Affairs on February 9. With Mappus, the CDU leadership
will turn conservative, while a close friendship with the Free
Democratic Party (FDP) coalition partner is expected. Mappus is an
active, motivated, but polarizing political figure. Thus far,
Mappus has had little national presence, but this is likely to
Stefan Mappus: Germany's Youngest Minister President
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2. (SBU) On Feb 10, the State Parliament elected B-W CDU caucus
chief Stefan Mappus Minister President with 83 of the 137 votes,
one less than the 84 votes of the CDU/FDP coalition. 51 delegates
voted against him, one abstained and two ballots had other names
written on them. Immediately after his election, Mappus expressed
satisfaction with his election result and announced that he will
present his cabinet on February 24. Mappus, who was is 43 years
old, born in 1966, is now Germany's youngest Minister President.
3. (SBU) Mappus has long been an outspoken representative of the
party's conservative wing. His politics differ considerably from
those of his predecessor Guenther Oettinger, with whom he was often
in conflict. A native of Pforzheim, Mappus remains rooted in rural
B-W and maintains small-town conservative "family" values. Mappus
has already announced that he won't move with his family, wife and
two sons, into the official residence of the Minister President in
Stuttgart. Mappus's personality is also said to differ from
Oettinger's, with Mappus being more polarizing, less
consensus-prone, and unafraid of conflict. CDU contacts told
consulate representatives that the tone of the CDU leadership will
become tougher as will the relationship with opposition parties.
Originally trained as an economist, Mappus Mappus says that former
Bavarian M-P Franz Josef Strauss, also known to have been both a
conservative and polarizing in his speech, is his political idol.
4. (SBU) The B-W FDP welcomes Mappus as Minister President. Ulrich
Goll, B-W Interior Minister, asserted yesterday that the one
coalition vote that wasn't for Mappus did not come from an FDP
member. Mappus is a close personal friend of FDP caucus chief
Hans-Ulrich Ruelke (who also lives in Pforzheim), and Mappus also
works well with B-W FDP state chair and Bundestag floor leader
Birgit Homburger. (Reftel) In terms of tax cuts and the recent
issue of the CD with tax evasion data, Mappus has publicly sided
with Ruelke. Under Mappus, the B-W CDU will be more predictable for
the FDP. While Oettinger initially discussed a coalition with the
Greens, such a constellation would be impossible under Mappus. As
a result, the FDP remains confident in their current CDU-FDP
coalition government and believe that it will likely continue after
the 2011 elections.
A Shift to the Political Right
5. (SBU) While the CDU leadership may shift right, the opposition
Social Democrat (SPD) and Greens party are already considering how
they can benefit from the change. B-W SPD state chairman Nils
Schmid told Consulate representatives that Mappus wants to gain the
support of the ultra-conservative voters in the state, which will
leave more room in the middle of the political spectrum. Schmid
hopes to take advantage of this. Schmid also thinks that a more
conservative CDU will help improve the previously tense relations
between the SPD and Greens. Eugen Schlachter, financial expert of
the Greens caucus, told Congen that he expects Mappus to make
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far-reaching changes in the cabinet, and he also expects Mappus to
continue to be confrontational. In terms of policy, Schmid warns of
Mappus's tendency to be anti-immigration and anti-integration.
"While I consider diversity to be a chance, Mappus considers it to
be a threat", Schmid said. Schmid believes the SPD will be able to
attract voters with migration backgrounds.
6. COMMENT: (SBU)Members of all political parties agree that
Mappus will introduce new policy priorities and a new leadership
style. By reputation, Mappus is an active, motivated, but
polarizing political figure. Thus far, Mappus has had little
national presence, but this is likely to change. With the spring
2011 Baden-Wuerttemberg election on the horizon, Mappus will likely
spend the next year trying to increase both his name recognition
and his popularity, which may mean a considerable shift from the
policies of his predecessor and may also mean an initial attempt to
keep the population of Baden-Wuerttemberg content by avoiding tough
issues like balancing the severely overdrawn B-W state budget. END
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