It begins with a mysterious invitation from the FDP parliamentary group on Wednesday morning. “Important press conference” is the subject line, the e-mail says: “We will provide information on the subject on site.” According to party circles, a “bomb” will burst. Things remain nebulous for an hour or two, then the evidence accumulates: the former Economics Minister Franz Josef Pschierer is leaving the CSU, leaving its parliamentary group and moving a few rows to the FDP.
It’s not a bomb. It would have been a bombshell if the FDP had, say, presented Gloria-Sophie Burkandt as a new party member. The daughter of CSU boss Markus Söder said she could imagine a career in politics. In the summer she left the CSU party youth. And only on Sunday did the FDP make another CSU prime minister’s daughter a constituency candidate for the state elections in Munich-Mitte: Susanne Seehofer. Söder and Seehofer, together against the CSU, that would have been a very nice headline.
Well then, Pschierer. Not a bomb, but still a bang. Pschierer, 66, has long been one of the dissatisfied in the CSU parliamentary group and his relationship with Söder was considered broken – which is why his departure should not shake the party too much internally. As far as the external impact is concerned, things look a little different. After the Seehofer personnel, the FDP is in any case trying to sell the Pschierer personnel as another coup. A Franz Josef changes from the CSU to the FDP, sounds good.
And so, for the second time in a few days, FDP faction leader Martin Hagen is smiling in a room that is too small for all the reporters and cameramen. That’s how it was on Sunday in the Wirtshaus-Stüberl, at the Seehofer coup, and that’s how it is on Wednesday in room A211 of the state parliament. Shortly after 2:30 p.m. Hagen and Pschierer step through the door in front of the screen with the FDP logo and the party colors. Blue, Yellow, Magenta Pink. “Unusual,” says Pschierer. Hagen says: “Welcome to the Free Democrats, dear Franz.” The FDP is gaining a “free spirit”, the CSU is losing one of its “last market economy votes”. Such compliments have not been heard in the CSU about Pschierer for a long time.
You can’t “blame everything on traffic lights,” says Pschierer
Under Horst Seehofer, Pschierer was State Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Söder made him head of the house in March 2018 – and released him from the cabinet six months later, after the 2018 election. A serious disappointment for Pschierer, which he has not yet coped with , say party colleagues.
In room A211, Pschierer first talks publicly about the “intersections” that have always existed between him and the FDP, most recently during the Corona crisis, when he was particularly noticeable with his criticism of Söder. Some rules were “exaggerated,” he says on Wednesday. So Pschierer quickly switched from the intersections with the FDP to his differences with the CSU, which ultimately would have prompted him to turn his back on the party and faction. What comes next, Pschierer calls “my motives”, in the CSU they call it: post cards.
Anyone who wants to represent Bavarian interests “can’t hit the traffic light coalition in the face every day,” says Pschierer, “channels must be found in this federal government.” For those who didn’t get it: The CSU has been raging against the Berlin coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP for months. Even Bayern “didn’t do their homework,” says Pschierer. He means, of course, the CSU. “The dependency on Russian gas”, the slow expansion of the power grid, and in Berlin the CSU has been in government for 16 years. You can’t “put everything on the traffic light”.
The fact that the Pschierer case does not leave the CSU cold is indicated by faction leader Thomas Kreuzer by inviting the press on Wednesday. Pschierer, says Kreuzer, recently had “no good hair” at the traffic lights, now he’s switching “without scruples” to the traffic light party FDP. Kreuzer then talks about Pschierer’s opponents in his Unterallgäu constituency and that the ex-minister probably assumed that he would not be able to win the candidacy for a direct mandate for the 2023 election. For “career interests” he has now switched to the FDP in the hope of running for the state parliament again.
Pschierer disagrees. Not very subtly, he expresses the suspicion that the state chancellery could have helped to prevent his renewed candidacy in the Lower Allgäu. “You have to solve the Pschierer problem on site,” he says about himself – without mentioning who is said to have ordered it. soder? In any case, “I didn’t want to bring this legislature period to an end in this intriguing town,” says Pschierer about the CSU, which has already lost three faction members in this legislature period, 82 are still left. The FDP parliamentary group, on the other hand, grows to twelve people with Pschierer.