Munich - Only a few books have been discussed as controversially among Bavarians as Wilfried Scharnagl's latest effort "Bayern kann es auch alleine" (Bavaria can also do it on its own). A book about Bavarian separatism and the idea of an independent Free State of Bavaria within the European Union? In this day and age? Many must have considered this at most an impossibility and at least an irrational idea.
However, sales figures for the book - which has yet to be translated into English - paint a different picture. If you have been on your way around town by car or tramway, it is almost certain you have come across one of the huge advertisements for Scharnagl's latest 191-page tome. Also, his book presentations in Munich, as well as Berlin of all places, have attracted huge crowds and enjoyed wide media coverage.
73-year-old Scharnagl is a journalist and veteran politician for the CSU. In his book, he demands independence or, at the very least, more autonomy for the Free State of Bavaria. In addition, he was a close personal advisor to former Bavarian state premier Franz Josef Strauß, which gives him a certain authority in a region of the country where Strauß has attained a kind of near sainthood.
The fact that Bavaria is part of Germany and not a sovereign state is a "historic tragedy" Scharnagl claims. Regarding the current financial crisis and the argument between the German states about the Laenderfinanzausgleich (financial equalization of German states), he thinks Bavaria is now in a "stranglehold" held in "double oppression" by Berlin and Brussels.
The author argues that federal measures to balance conditions in Germany have always damaged standards in Bavaria, such as the level of education, which he calls Bavaria's "crown jewel." Therefore, the book recommends Bavaria should leave the Federal Republic of Germany, as well as the European Union, and establish itself as a free state with Switzerland as its role model. He also writes of the "Scottish way" and suggests the model of Scotland's potential independence as a role model for the possibility of Bavaria dropping out of the German Republic. However, critics argue that Scharnagl cannot provide concrete concepts and mainly focuses on the historic facts that have led Bavaria to where it is today.