The established parties have to fight for their coalitions
On 13 March 2016 new state parliaments (Landtag) were elected in three German federal states. The results of the established parties such as the CDU and the SPD in comparison to the newly-established Euro-critical “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) were of main interest. , Chancellor Angela Merkel had hoped to win the South-West of the country, despite the resistance against her refugee policy. However, the AfD performed considerably well and managed to establish itself on the right side of the political spectrum.
AfD becomes the second strongest force in Saxony-Anhalt
After the previous Landtag elections in Saxony-Anhalt in 2011 the coalition of the CDU and the SPD has continued governing the federal state under Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff. In December 2015, three months prior to the election, the federal state’s CDU Chairman Thomas Webel excluded any cooperation with the AfD. His aim was to sustain the black-red coalition. However, this is no longer possible.
Despite minor losses, the CDU of Prime Minister Haseloff won the Landtag election, the seventh elections of the new state after the German unity. Due to the preliminary results, the party accounts for 29.8 per cent. However, compared to 2011, that means a decrease of more than two per cent points.
The AfD managed to become the second strongest power right from the starting position. The right-wing populists gained 24.2 per cent of the votes. The SPD plummeted to 10.6 per cent and had to register its worst result ever accomplished in a Landtag election. In 2011, the party still achieved 21.5 per cent. The Left Party had to accept a loss of seven per cent points. With only 16.3 per cent, it fell back to the third place. The Green Party accounts for 5.2 per cent and can thereby barely win seats in the Landtag. The FDP, with 4.9 per cent, failed to reach the five-per-cent threshold.
Due to the SPD’s weakness, the black-red coalition cannot continue governing in Saxony-Anhalt. It is likely that the CDU and the Social Democrats will search for a third partner. The voter turnout increased considerably – from 52.2 per cent in 2011 to 61.1 per cent in 2016.
SPD Prime Minister asserts herself in Rhineland-Palatinate
In January 2013 Kurt Beck (SPD), who had governed the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate since 1994, resigned from his office as Prime Minister. He was replaced by his fellow party member Malu Dreyer. She ran for Landtag elections for the first time. On several live TV shows, she competed mainly with the CDU candidate Julia Klöckner about the refugee policy issues.
Dreyer succeeded in sustaining the SPD’s position as strongest party. According to preliminary results, the Social Democrats account for 36.2 per cent. Compared to 2011, this is an increase of about two per cent points. The CDU with front runner Julia Klöckner gained 31.8 per cent and lost more than two per cent points of its previous result. The Green Party plummeted to 5.3 per cent. After an absence of five years, the FDP returned to the Rhineland-Palatinate Landtag with a result of 6.3 per cent. The AfD instantly achieved 12.6 per cent.
The Left Party, the Free Voters, the Pirates’ Party and the NPD failed to cross the five per cent threshold but, nevertheless, gained at least one per cent of the votes and thereby qualify for party financing.
Due to the weakness of the Green Party, a continuation of the red-green coalition will not be possible in the state´s capital Mainz. For the future, a grand coalition of CDU and SPD or a tripartite alliance of the SPD, the Green Party and the FDP are probable.
The voter turnout rose to 70.4 per cent, which is an increase of 8.6 per cent points compared to 2011 (61.8 per cent) and the highest turnout ever recorded for a Landtag election in Rhineland-Palatinate since 1996.
Historic victory for the Green Party in Baden-Württemberg
The Green Party has managed to become the strongest party on a local level for the very first time in Germany. Current projections show a result of 30.3 per cent. Thus, the party took over its toughest contester, the CDU, by about 3 per cent and improved its result of the previous state elections in 2011 by 6.1 per cent. Therefore, the incumbent green Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann was confirmed in his office.
For the two established parties, the liberal-conservative CDU and the social-democratic SPD, the Election Day was a black day. The CDU lost 12.0 per cent in its former stronghold and plummeted to 27.0 per cent. The SPD has lost almost half of its votes and could only gather 12.7 per cent, making it fall behind the new, right-wing populist AfD. The latter achieved 15.1 per cent and, thereby, became the third strongest force in the federal state. With a result of 8.3 per cent, after 5.3 per cent in 2011, the liberal FDP will probably return to the State Parliament. The Left Party, in contrast, only accounts for 2.9 per cent and does not pass the required five-percent threshold.
70.4 per cent of the population who is entitled to vote went to the ballots. Compared to 2011, this is an increase of 4.2 per cent.
The success of the AfD is putting the country into turmoil and the Green Party faces another problem: The previous green-red coalition lost its majority after this year´s elections and has to look for a new coalition partner. A rarely-occurring green-black coalition with the CDU would be possible, or a triple alliance together with the SPD and the FDP.
The elections in Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Pfalz and Sachsen-Anhalt were considered a test for the grand coalition in the German Federal Parliament. The parties losses and the rise of the AfD is probably due to internal disputes, especially about the refugee policy. According to polls, 70 per cent of the AfD voters did so because they are disappointed with the other parties.