[FOUNTAIN]Follow the Bavarian example

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[FOUNTAIN]Follow the Bavarian example

Bavaria joined the German empire in 1871. Bavaria had no option since Prussia, a powerful state led by Otto Von Bismarck, had defeated France. Ludwig II, the last king of Bavaria, spent his final years building palaces. He built the famous Neuschwanstein castle. But his life came to an untimely end; his body was found in a lake. A public announcement said he became mentally ill and committed suicide. Of course, people of Bavaria have never believed the announcement. They believe Prussians assassinated Ludwig II. They still express their condolences by using his portrait on numerous souvenirs.

Bavarians still have hard feelings toward Prussians, people living in Northern Germany, including Berlin. "You Prussian swine," is one of the worst slurs in Bavaria.

The historical background is key to understanding Bavarians' sentiment. Bavaria is the largest state in Germany and has the highest per capita income. Its unemployment rate is also lowest among states in Germany. The Bayreuth Festival, the pre-eminent showcase for Richard Wagner's music, is also held in Bavaria. The Bayern Munich, the most famous soccer team in Germany, is also from here. Foreign chiefs of state are ushered about in BMWs, the brand that originated in Bavaria.

Bavarians' self-perception is also displayed in politics. The Christian-Social Union has been at the helm of the state since 1947. Such a long rein by a single party is rarely seen in democratic countries. The Christian-Social Union seems to have control of every administrative and state position in Bavaria, ranging from governor to town chief.

But in the regional election last Sunday, Bavarians proved that they do not always vote along regional lines. Candidates from the Social Democratic Party swept the mayoral elections in Munich, Nuremberg and Augsburg, all Bavarian cities. This was rather unexpected as the Christian-Social Union recently showed its muscle by gaining a nomination for German chancellor for the first time in 20 years. A newspaper report that said Bavaria does not belong to the Christian-Social Union seems persuasive.

Now, let's talk about Korea's situation. Clearly, Korea's regionalism will become even more severe as the presidential election nears. I hope we can eliminate the destructive effects of regionalism, which have dominated the minds of Korean voters with ideas such as: A province belongs to the politician who is originally from that province.

The writer is a Berlin correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Yoo Jae-sik

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