Head of the CSU Horst Seehofer reportedly consulted with his fellow sister party CDU members at the weekend and secured their backing for the tactic, calling the FDP out for being neo-liberals.
The FDP hit back, saying his attacks were wrong, and that it was behaving with social responsibility as a coalition partner in state governments.
Seehofer, who is also Bavaria's premier, is trying to prevent voters giving their second vote to the FPD, playing on the popularity of Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, the most prominent and popular CSU politician of the moment.
He told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, “If the voters give enough votes to the Union, we can confidently fill this position again. So whoever wants to keep Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg as Economy Minister should use their second vote in Bavaria for the CSU and otherwise vote CDU.”
The fight between CSU and FDP could prove irritating for Angela Merkel, who recently said her aim was to form a black-yellow coalition between her CDU, its sister party the CSU and the Free Democrats after the election.
But Seehofer said, “The FDP will endanger the electoral chances of black-yellow if they continue to fight the election campaign with frightening neo-liberal spirits. [FDP chief Guido] Westerwelle should have learned that from 2005.”
Westerwelle said he was not a neo-liberal, telling daily Die Tageszeitung, “I cannot do anything with that word.” He said the FDP was a coalition partner in state governments covering three quarters of the German population. “Not a single social guarantee has been broken there,” he said. His party has recently called for changes to be made to the Hartz IV social welfare payments, sparking an avalanche of criticism.