As the Bavarian Christian Democrats (CSU) launched their regional election campaign this weekend, leading party members faced backlash for recently paying a visit to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, known for far-right, anti-minority views.
In the upcoming regional elections this autumn, the CSU, the Bavarian sister party of Germany’s Christian Democrats (CSU), hopes to defend its dominant position in Germany’s second-largest state.
But a party congress on Saturday, which launched the CSU’s campaign and unanimously elected current Bavarian minister-president Markus Söder as a lead candidate, was overshadowed by the backlash against high-ranking party members.
The criticism came after leading CSU politicians, including former transport minister Andreas Scheuer and the party’s vice-whip in the federal parliament, Dorothee Bär, visited DeSantis for talks in Florida on Friday.
“The governor’s strong strategic and foreign policy assessments highlight transatlantic cooperation,” Scheuer wrote on Twitter after the visit.
DeSantis, seen as Donald Trump’s biggest Republican rival in the 2024 US presidential election race, has been making waves with anti-LGBTQ policies.
Most recently, Florida largely banned teachers from talking about gender identity and sexual orientation in some elementary schools. At the same time, public school libraries were forced to take books off their shelves as they were being reviewed for suitability.
“If DeSantis’ policies are a role model for the CSU, well then, say no more,” the German government’s LGBTQ commissioner, Sven Lehmann (Greens), told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland. The governor’s laws “are an acute threat to minorities,” Lehmann added.
Criticism also came from the sister party CDU.
In a tweet, the federal association of gay and lesbian CDU members said it “will not comment” on the CSU members’ meeting with DeSantis, but “will address it with them as soon as possible.”
(Julia Dahm | EURACTIV.de)
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