P 311604Z AUG 09
FM AMCONSUL LEIPZIG
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0164
INFO FRG COLLECTIVE
AMCONSUL LEIPZIG UNCLAS LEIPZIG 000026
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: SPD POSITIONED AS KINGMAKER IN THURINGIA COALITION DILEMMA
REF: LEIPZIG 25
1. (SBU) The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) suffered a severe
blow in the Thuringia state elections August 30, losing its
absolute majority. This has been interpreted as a setback on
the national level as well, since the CDU came up short of being
able to form a coalition with its preferred partner, the Free
Democratic Party (FDP), before the September 27 Bundestag
elections. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) won 18.5 percent
and will be the "kingmaker" in coalition negotiations;
currently, party leadership is weighing possible coalition
options with both the CDU and the Left Party, which came in
second with 27.4 percent of the vote. Both choices present
political conundrums: The SPD campaigned against
Minister-President (MP) Dieter Althaus's CDU personally, but now
SPD lead candidate Christoph Matschie is not ruling out a
coalition with that party. At the same time, the SPD has
rejected serving in a coalition where the Left Party provides
the minister-president, something the Left Party as the stronger
party would have the right to do. Formation of a new coalition
before the national elections does not appear likely since it
could provide political fodder for the CDU. End Summary.
Thuringia: CDU Loses Ground
2. (U) State elections on August 30th brought unhappy results
for MP Dieter Althaus's CDU, which, with 31.8 percent of the
votes lost 11.8 percent compared with elections in 2004 and came
up short of being able to form a coalition with the FDP, its
preferred partner. The CDU had polled in the 40's until two
weeks before the elections. It appears that an unpopular stance
on tax reform and the failure of Magna to take over Opel may
have swayed voters away from the CDU. The continuing
repercussions of a January 1st ski accident which resulted in
Althaus being convicted of manslaughter, also took their toll
on election day.
3. (U) The Left Party ran a close second with 27.4 percent of
the vote (+ 1.3 percent). The SPD won 18.5 percent (+ 4
percent), the FDP 7.6 percent (+ 4), and the Greens 6.2 percent
(+ 1.7). The right-wing extremist National Democratic Party
(NPD) received 4.3 percent, missing the 5 percent threshold
necessary for entry into the state parliament.
The SPD Holds the Key
4. (SBU) The SPD must now decide whether to turn to a coalition
with Thuringia's weakened CDU, or to enter into a coalition with
the Left Party. Both constellations could be problematic for
the SPD; the SPD campaigned on the need for change, including
throwing Althaus out of office, and could appear weakened if it
now enters a partnership with the CDU. Trying to enter a
coalition with the stronger Left Party could also present
problems since the Left Party could insist on taking the
Minister-President's office -- something the SPD said would be
unacceptable. The Left Party MP candidate Bodo Ramelow told
Berlin and Leipzig Poloffs August 27 that he would not enter
into a coalition where Matschie is MP, but left open whether he
would insist himself on becoming MP. The Left Party has
indicated that the SPD should push aside Matschie in favor of
another lead candidate (reftel).
5. (SBU) Although election results are in, which way Thuringia
turns politically is still open and is likely to remain so until
after the national elections. The SPD appears split on which
direction to turn to form a coalition, to the left or to the
right. In Thuringia, contacts told us they believe the party
will postpone a decision on entering a coalition until after the
national elections. Forming a coalition with the Left Party in
Thuringia prior to national elections could damage the national
SPD prior to the September 27 elections. It would allow the
national CDU to argue that this is a sign of things to come --
that the national SPD lacks credibility in maintaining it will
not form a coalition with The Left on the national level. Many
attribute the national SPD's current weakened state to the
Hessen state SPD's flirtation with the Left Party last year.
The Thuringia SPD may be in a no-win situation since, according
to Thuringia SPD state party manager, its membership is divided
between those who favor forming a coalition with the Left Party
and those who favor a coalition with the CDU. Either way, it is
bound to alienate part of its membership. End Summary.
6. (U) This message was coordinated with U.S. Embassy Berlin.
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