Merkel's Bavarian ally loses support after nepotism scandal

BERLIN Tue May 7, 2013 6:21am EDT

Horst Seehofer, Prime Minister of Bavaria and party leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) delivers his speech during the second day of Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU)'s annual party meeting in Hanover, December 5, 2012. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Horst Seehofer, Prime Minister of Bavaria and party leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) delivers his speech during the second day of Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU)'s annual party meeting in Hanover, December 5, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Accusations of nepotism within Germany's Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, have hit support for the party's leader some four months before elections, a poll showed on Tuesday.

According to a Forsa poll, 57 percent of Germans do not view Horst Seehofer, a combative and polarizing politician, as credible. That number rose to 65 percent for voters over the age of 45. No comparative figures were immediately available.

Merkel, fighting for a third term in the September 22 election, needs a strong CSU as they are part of her conservative bloc in parliament. On September 15, the state of Bavaria holds its own vote and the CSU is under some pressure to hold on to power.

A top CSU politician quit last month, saying he had used state funds to pay his wife a big salary for working for him, a loophole Bavarian lawmakers have long used.

The CSU is also linked to Uli Hoeness, the president of Bayern Munich soccer club who is embroiled in a tax evasion row.

Seehofer has in the past responded to poor ratings by picking fights with Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and he could make her life difficult in the run-up to the elections.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers, editing by Gareth Jones)

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