Two litres of beer and hit the road, says premier

Bavaria’s already embattled premier found himself in trouble on Tuesday after saying that driving is OK after two litres of beer at Germany’s Oktoberfest starting this week.

”It is no problem if you drink one Mass [a one-litre glass of beer], and if you are around for a couple of hours, even two,” Guenther Beckstein, the southern state’s conservative premier, told a local newspaper.

Beckstein qualified his comments but stuck to his guns in an interview with Bayerischer Rundfunk radio on Tuesday, saying: ”If, for example, you are drinking for five, six, seven hours at the Oktoberfest, it is still OK with two Mass.”

The comments, which drew criticism and head-scratching from politicians, police and doctors alike, come at a sensitive time for Beckstein, less than two weeks before crucial state elections on September 28.

It is out of the question that Beckstein’s Christian Social Union (CSU) will lose the election, but it faces the very real prospect of scoring less than 50% of the vote for the first time since the 1960s.

The CSU is the sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, and a poor result in Bavaria would be unwelcome ahead of national elections in a year’s time.

The Oktoberfest, which begins in Munich on Saturday and runs to October 5, is the world’s largest beer festival, drawing about six million visitors every year. Last year 6,7-million litres of beer were sold. — Sapa-AFP

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