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09BERLIN1020 2009-08-21 14:52:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Berlin
Cable title:  

CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL RALLIES EAST GERMAN CDU

Tags:   GM PGOV PREL 
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1. (U) Chancellor Angela Merkel (Christian Democratic Union
- CDU) used a high-level CDU gathering in Weimar on August 18
to rally eastern Germany's CDU for the upcoming state (August
30) and parliamentary elections (September 27). Merkel told
her party that electoral success for Thuringian
Minister-President Dieter Althaus, Saxony Minister-President
Stanislaw Tillich, and Brandenburg Vice Minister-President
Johanna Wanka was critical to securing the CDU's electoral
fortunes on September 27 and to consolidating the party's
foothold in eastern Germany. Merkel raised the specter of
Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Left Party coalitions in
east German states. Thuringia was the prime example where
Left Party Bundestag member and minister-president candidate
Bodo Ramelow is viewed as a threat to the CDU's fortunes.
Merkel said the CDU would do everything to prevent such a
coalition from becoming political reality. Each CDU
Minister-President at the event warned of "experimenting"
with the political left, especially the radical Left Party,
thereby making abundantly clear how sensitive the CDU has
become to potential left wing majorities in future state
elections. End summary.

STUDY THE PAST IF YOU WOULD DIVINE THE FUTURE


--------------------------





2. (U) Chancellor Merkel was greeted by several hundred east
German party faithful with a rapturous standing ovation upon
her arrival at the Weimar venue August 18, which PolOff
attended. She took the opportunity to reflect on and draw
conclusions from Germany's history twenty years after the
fall of the Berlin Wall and sixty years after the founding of
the Federal Republic. She thanked former Chancellor Helmut
Kohl for his efforts in pursuing German unification. But she
chastised those -- Oskar Lafontaine (former SPD Party
Chairman and now Left Party Chairman) and former SPD
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder -- for their initial opposition.




3. (U) Three CDU Minister-Presidents, including one aspiring
CDU Minister-President from the state of Brandenburg also
appeared. The meeting's principal objective was to reflect
on eastern Germany's economic development since 1990 and to
assess the CDU's record of job creation, particularly through
investment. Chancellor Merkel and her CDU
Minister-Presidents emphasized the importance of innovative
renewable energy programs and electric car technologies, as
well as improving education programs to produce more
qualified job-seekers. The contents of the CDU's "Governing
Program, 2009-2013" set the tone for Merkel's remarks and for
the comments made by a roundtable of east German CDU
Minister-Presidents.



4. (U) So as not to alienate the older east German
generation, Merkel stressed that, "Not all was bad in the
former GDR." She further noted that after reunification the
eastern states controlled by the CDU were economic and
environmental innovators par excellence, which were crucial
to Germany's economic recovery. Merkel highlighted the need
for better education and more focus on engineering,
mathematics, and science, especially for women. Merkel tied
economic recovery in Germany's eastern states to the CDU's
remaining in power. Merkel briefly switched campaign mode
when she described as a "sad game" the national SPD's
decision to allow the party at the state level to determine
coalitions with the Left Party.

COMMENT


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5. (C) Six weeks before the national parliamentary
elections, Chancellor Merkel continues to frustrate the SPD
opposition with her calculated strategy of avoiding any
confrontation with them and their Chancellor-candidate
Frank-Walter Steinmeier. In Weimar, she confirmed that on
her home turf in eastern Germany she feels very comfortable
talking about the former German Democratic Republic's
historical legacy, while at the same playing up the strength
of the eastern Germans to overcome adversity, especially
during the current economic crisis. This was very well
received. She did not use the occasion to score political
points or to take the fight to the SPD; she acted like a
stateswoman who, for now, can stand above the fray of petty
political squabbles. One could almost detect Merkel's pity
for her SPD opponents as they struggle to define a coherent
electoral strategy to begin cutting the CDU's double-digit

BERLIN 00001020 002 OF 002


lead in the polls.



6. (C) CDU Director of Marketing and Communications and
Coordinator of Federal State Campaigns Oliver Roeseler
(please protect) told PolOff before the Weimar event that
Chancellor Merkel's electoral strategy was to consciously
avoid getting into details on tax and economic policy. It
remains to be seen whether the SPD can compel her to respond
in more detail when it inevitably ups the ante with more
aggressive attacks on the CDU platform and record in the
final month before the election. A TV duel between Merkel
and Steinmeier on September 13 may prod the Chancellor to
take off her political gloves. It is more likely, however,
that both Merkel and Steinmeier -- who have worked well with
each other over the years -- will debate in a calm and
factual manner, without eliciting any strong response from
the public. According to one "Stern Magazine" commentator,
Hans Peter Schuetz, Merkel's campaign will begin in earnest
on September 15 when she traces former CDU Chancellor Konrad
Adenauer's footsteps by traveling by train from Rhoendorf
(Adenauer's home) to Berlin via Bonn and Leipzig.
Unfortunately, Adenauer's train collided with a tractor near
Koblenz; Merkel will be hoping that her train and her
electoral campaign remain unscathed up to the parliamentary
elections. End comment.



7. (U) For more information about the German parliamentary
elections, visit Embassy Berlin's Unclassified web page at
http://www.intelink.gov/wiki/2009 German Elections. You can
visit out Classified web page at
http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/2009 German Elections.
Murphy