Monday, 14 March 2016

My analysis of recent German Landtag elections

Last night, three states in Germany, specifically Baden-Wurttenberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saxony-Anhalt, held their latest Landtag elections.

The German Green Party made history in Baden-Wurttenberg, by finishing first a landtag election poll, and for the very first time. They managed 30.3%, which gave them 47 seats in the Baden-Wurttenberg Landtag, an increase of 11 and placing them ahead of the often-dominant Christian Democratic Union (CDU), giving Minister-President Winfried Kretschmann, who in 2011 became the first ever Green Minister-President of any German Landtag, another term in office. The Social Democrats, the German Greens' coalition partners in Baden-Wurttenberg, were hit badly, though, dropping from 35 seats to 19 and finishing 4th.

Our German colleagues' success in Baden-Wurttenberg, however, could not be matched in simultaneous elections in Saxony-Anhalt and Rhineland-Palatinate. The Greens there suffered losses of 4 seats and 12 seats there, and only just stayed above the 5% threshold in each case with 5.2% and 5.3% respectively. I am as of yet unsure how this has happened, given that environmental issues are more pressing than ever across Europe.

Another major story is the losses the CDU and the SPD have suffered in all three elections, and all due to the rise of the Eurosceptic and right-wing Alternative For Germany (AfD) movement, in a manner similar to UKIP in Britain. The refugee crisis and Angela Merkel's approach to it were a strong factor in the rise of the AfD, especially in Saxony-Anhalt where they came a strong second with 24.2% of the vote, displacing Die Linke (The Left) into third place and finishing with 24 seats, just 6 less than the CDU. Meanwhile, a moderate splinter group of AfD, the Alliance for Progress and Renewal (ALFA), failed to get even 1% of the vote in any of the three Landtags. Amidst all this, Die Linke had a poor night, losing 9 seats in Saxony-Anhalt (the SPD lost 15, however) and not going anywhere in either Baden-Wurttenberg or Rhineland-Palatinate.  The Free Democrats regained entry into the Rhineland-Palatinate landtag with 6.2% of the vote, which partly explains the Greens' bad performance and heavy seat losses there, and improved their position in Baden-Wurttenberg by gaining 5 extra seats. They were however disappointed about missing the crucial threshold in Saxony-Anhalt by a mere 0.1% of the vote, although the FDP have never been particularly strong in the east of Germany any more than the Greens have (compared to their strength in western provinces).

This historic win for the German Greens in Baden-Wurttenberg is truly a sign that contrary to popular belief, green politics can appeal to everyone and can work for everyone, and in any country as well. It is a shining example of the hope for us all when we all make the right choices.


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