German Interior Minister and CSU chairman Horst Seehofer arrives for a party board meeting in the headquarters of the Christian Social Union, CSU, in Munich, Germany, Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, the day after their party lost the absolute majority in Bavaria's state parliament by a wide margin. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Merkel's regional ally bullish despite Bavaria election blow

October 15, 2018 - 4:34 am

BERLIN (AP) — Smarting from the loss of his party's absolute majority in Bavaria's state parliament, a prominent ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel dismissed speculation Monday over his future and insisted he would work to keep supporting the German leader's national government.

Both of Merkel's partners in an unhappy "grand coalition" of Germany's traditional major parties lost significant ground in Sunday's vote in one of the country's most important states. Party leaders appeared keen to maintain discipline ahead of another state election in two weeks, in neighboring Hesse.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told reporters his conservative Christian Social Union will "will play our part (...) so that the 'grand coalition' can steadily continue to do its work." His CSU is the Bavaria-only sister to Merkel's Christian Democratic Union.

Seehofer's conservative party received 37.2 percent of the vote, down from 47.7 percent five years ago. Sunday's result was its worst performance since 1950 in a state vote in Bavaria, which it has traditionally dominated.

Some in the party have blamed Seehofer for the result and hinted the 69-year-old should resign — a suggestion he appeared to reject.

"I won't hold a discussion about my position," he said. Seehofer insisted that his party still has "a special role in Germany's political landscape."

The CSU is tipped to partner with the Free Voters, a local conservative rival, to form a government in Munich.

The center-left Social Democrats, who only reluctantly joined Merkel's national coalition earlier this year, received just 9.7 percent of the vote, less than half what they got in 2013 — their worst in Bavaria since World War II.

The big winners of the election were the environmentalist Greens, who came second, and the far-right Alternative for Germany, which entered the state legislature. It now sits in 15 of Germany's 16 state parliaments, as well as the national parliament.

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