Glamorous Bavarian wants law to allow 7-year itch

BERLIN Fri Sep 21, 2007 4:26pm EDT

1 of 3. Bavaria's conservative Christian Socialist (CSU) rebel Gabriele Pauli answers reporter questions during a news conference in Munich September 19, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Michaela Rehle

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Bavaria's most glamorous politician -- a flame-haired motorcyclist who helped bring down state premier Edmund Stoiber -- has shocked the Catholic state in Germany by suggesting marriage should last just 7 years.

Gabriele Pauli, who poses on her web site in motorcycle leathers, is standing for the leadership of Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU) -- sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) -- in a vote next week.

She told reporters at the launch of her campaign manifesto Wednesday she wanted marriage to expire after seven years and accused the CSU, which promotes traditional family values, of nurturing ideals of marriage which are wide of the mark.

"The basic approach is wrong ... many marriages last just because people believe they are safe," she told reporters. "My suggestion is that marriages expire after seven years."

After that time, couples should either agree to extend their marriage or it should be automatically dissolved, she said.

Fifty-year-old Pauli, twice divorced, is a maverick intent on shaking up her male-dominated and mainly Catholic party which has dominated Bavarian politics since World War Two.

"This is about bringing ideas into the CSU and starting a discussion," she told German television Thursday after she had unleashed a wave of criticism from other politicians.

Former foe Stoiber said she did not belong in the CSU and European lawmaker Ingo Freidrich dismissed her views.

"She is diametrically contradicting our Christian, ethical values," Freidrich said.

Peter Ramsauer, head of the CSU in Germany's parliament, compared Pauli's ideas to "the dirt under your fingernails."

Pauli, who attracted attention earlier this year when she posed for a magazine wearing long black latex gloves, was at the center of a snooping scandal which eventually led to Stoiber, Bavarian premier for 14 years, saying he would stand down early.

She said his office tried to obtain details about lovers and alcohol consumption to use against her.

The CSU will elect Stoiber's successor as party head at a conference next week. He will be replaced as state premier in early October.

Viewed as a party rebel, Pauli stands almost no chance of winning next week's vote. The contest has been fought mainly between Bavarian state economy minister Erwin Huber and German Consumer Minister Horst Seehofer.

The popularity of Seehofer, a 58-year-old married father of three, has suffered from the disclosure that he had been having an affair with a younger woman who recently had his baby.

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