Horst Seehofer

Merkel's Poltergeist

Bundeskanzlerin Merkel und Horst Seehofer
Horst Seehofer, Bavarian state premier and leader of the state's conservative Christian Social Union, is not making things easy for Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: Ralf Hirschberger/dpa
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    • Horst Seehofer is the premier of Bavaria and leader of the Christian Social Union. How he plays his political hand will influence developments in both Munich and Berlin leading up to the national election in autumn 2017.
  • Facts


    • Horst Seehofer, leader of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union, is opposed to the open-arms refugee policies of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
    • The center-right Christian Democratic Union, its smaller Bavarian counterpart the CSU and the center-left Social Democrats make up Germany’s coalition government.
    • There is some speculation that Mr. Seehofer could run as the top CSU candidate in the upcoming federal legislative elections and perhaps enter a new Merkel cabinet if the chancellor wins a fourth term in 2017.
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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.

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