Horst Seehofer

The Bavarian Thorn in Angela Merkel's Side

  • 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.
    • For the first time in 16 years, Ms. Merkel has not been invited to a CSU party convention.
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Angela Merkel and Horst Seehofer during last year's CSU party convention. Source: Sven Hoppe / DPA

As conservatives in the southern German state of Bavaria descended on Munich for an important party convention that began on Friday, the praise for Angela Merkel could hardly have been rosier.

No one is more suited to lead Germany than she is, rang this resounding praise, and: Ms. Merkel is doing everything right and should run for a fourth term.

Of course, that praise wasn’t coming from any members of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to the chancellor’s ruling Christian Democrats. Instead, it came from Winfried Kretschmann, the governor of the nearby state of Baden-Württemberg and a member of the Green Party.

It’s a sign of just how strained relations are between Ms. Merkel and her allies from Bavaria, when a member of the opposition speaks more favorably about her than they do.

Those relations have been tense ever since Ms. Merkel decided to open Germany’s doors to the legions of asylum seekers and refugees fleeing Syria, which led to a massive influx across Bavaria’s southern border – something that many political leaders in the state are still angry about today.

The acrimony has also led to an unprecedented situation whereby Horst Seehofer, the head of the CSU and premier of Bavaria, said he didn’t want to invite Ms. Merkel to the party convention – and Ms. Merkel saying she didn’t want to come.

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