Merkel’s Conservatives Win Elections in Hesse despite Steep Drop in Votes
As demonstrated by the votes in Bavaria and Hesse, maller parties continue to chip away at the support of Germany’s mainstream political center.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservative party CDU has won the election in the state of Hesse but has once again seen a steep decline compared to the previous polls.
Earlier this month, the CDU’s sister party, the CSU, won the election in the German state of Bavaria in a similar fashion, with a substantially smaller result.
The CDU received a total of 27.4% of the votes in Hesse on Sunday, 11 percentage points fewer than it did in 2013, DW reports.
While lower, its result in the state located in Central West Germany was still higher than the projections of pre-election opinion polls.
The Social Democrats (SPD), currently members of Merkel’s grand right – left ruling coalition, came in second with 19.6% but saw a similar drop in popularity to record their lowest result in Hesse since 1946.
Not unlike the recent elections in Bavaria, the Greens saw a surge with a result of 19.5%, an increase of 8 percentage points compared with 2013.
Yet, initially it was unclear if Hesse’s ruling coalition of the CDU and the Greens led by state premier and Merkel ally Volker Bouffier would have enough legislature seats to continue governing the state.
“It’s painful for the CDU that we lost so many votes,” CDU General Secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told supporters in Berlin.
“But it’s good that Volker Bouffier headed off a left-wing government and will get the chance to continue his work with the Greens in the regional government,” she added.
“We knew that this was a special sort of election, one that was overshadowed by the national coalition,” Bouffier told supporters.
“The message for the government is that people want less fighting and more solutions,” he added.
The far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) received 13% of the votes in the Hesse elections, and while its result is not huge, for the first time the controversial formation is represented in the parliaments of all of Germany’s 16 states.
The liberal centrist party FDP (Free Democrats) got 7.8% in the state election in Hesse, and the Left Party received 6.3%; both of those are improvements compared with 2013.
The results from Hesse’s election are seen as a continuation of a major trends in German politics, including the declining, though still relatively strong popularity of Merkel’s ruling conservatives, and smaller parties chipping away at voter pools of the mainstream parties of the political center.
(Banner image: CDU Hesse on Twitter)