Beckstein’s decision to step down follows the resignation of Erwin Huber, the chairman of Christian Social Union (CSU) on Tuesday. The regional sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats lost its absolute majority for the first time in nearly five decades this weekend.
The CSU won over 43 percent of the vote on Sunday, but it will now be forced to forge a coalition government. Following Huber’s departure it at first seemed as if Beckstein would carry on as premier, but he decided to pack it in after a meeting of the CSU’s state parliamentary group.
Beckstein told reporters in Munich that after “the painful election defeat from Sunday” he couldn’t garner enough support within the CSU “to successfully tackle the difficult tasks that lie before us as premier.”
German Agriculture Minister Horst Seehofer – already designated to take over from Huber as party boss – is tipped to replace Beckstein as state premier if the party can’t agree from three other likely candidates.
While the CSU state MPs was discussing Beckstein’s departure on Wednesday, Seehofer attempted to avoid reporters during a restroom call by scaling down the fire escape of the Bavarian parliament building in Munich.
But several members of the press spotted him and demanded he address the chaos rocking the CSU leadership. “We’re completely capable of acting – just so that’s been made clear,” he said before being making his way through the media scrum to the restroom.