BERLIN (Reuters) – Horst Seehofer, the leader of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Bavarian sister party, has not yet made a decision on whether to stand down from that role after a German newspaper reported he would quit in the coming days but stay federal Interior Minster.
Citing sources close to Seehofer, Die Zeit weekly reported that Merkel’s decision to step down as leader of her Christian Democrats (CDU) in December had influenced Seehofer’s decision to resign as head of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU).
“Since then, Horst has been relieved that he hasn’t landed in Merkel’s graveyard of men,” Die Zeit quoted one unnamed Seehofer confidante as saying. In her 13 years as chancellor, Merkel has seen off many of her male rivals for power.
A spokesman for Seehofer said no decision had been made. “Horst Seehofer has not decided,” said the spokesman, who reiterated that the CSU leader would make a statement on last month’s election in Bavaria and about his future after Nov. 12.
Seehofer, long a thorn in Merkel’s side and a robust critic of her 2015 open-doors migrant policy, has come under intense pressure to quit due to arguments with Merkel’s CDU and the Social Democrats (SPD), partners in the federal coalition.
A poor result for the CSU in last month’s state election, in which the party lost its absolute majority, raised further questions about whether he could keep his CSU job.
One of the most likely contenders to succeed Seehofer as head of the CSU is his long-time rival Markus Soeder, the state premier of Bavaria.
(Reporting by Joern Poltz in Munich and Michelle Martin in Berlin; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Maria Sheahan)