For Horst Seehofer, the Federal Republic of Germany is a miniature landscape in which a model train makes its rounds. When Chancellor Angela Merkel isn’t nice to him, a tiny Merkel figure is placed on the windowsill as punishment.
Much has been written about the toy train that belongs to the current premier of the southern state of Bavaria and leader of the state’s conservative Christian Social Union, the sister party to Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. Ever since a television crew was invited into his den in mid-May, the world view and political conception of the CSU chairman can be read in terms of trains, switch points and tiny stations.
For years now, Mr. Seehofer has been reproducing his life down in his cellar. Down there the federal government is still based in Bonn, the capital of former West Germany. When the Bavarian leader arrives there, he is met by a model chancellor and vice-chancellor. This is a simple world in which the CSU counts for something and Mr. Seehofer controls everything.