Mainstream Leftists SPD Win Election in Germany’s Hamburg, Merkel’s Conservatives Plummet
The country-wide popularity of Germany’s Social Democrats remains low, at about 15%.
Germany’s largest mainstream leftist party, the SPD, whose electoral popularity has been declining in recent years, won on Sunday the regional election in Hamburg.
At the same time, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU party saw its worst result in a German state election in the past 70 years.
The CDU, together with its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, has been ruling Germany in a grand right-left coalition with the SPD in Merkel’s fourth and last term as Chancellor.
Provisional results from the electoral commission showed the SPD won 39.0% of the vote, DW reported.
The environmentalist Greens surged, coming in second place, with 24.2%, meaning a likely coalition between the SPD and the Greens.
Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) fell to 11.2%, the party’s worst state election result in 70 years.
The Left party won secured 9.1% of the vote, followed by the far-right “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) with 5.3%, and the centrist liberal FDP with 5.0%.
A total of 1.3 million voters were eligible to participate in the state election in Hamburg for the 121 seats in the Hamburg Parliament, with the turnout reaching 62%, compared with 56.5% in 2015.
The election in Hamburg came against the backdrop of the recent controversy in the central German state of Thuringia where the CDU and FDP were accused of cooperating for the first time with the AfD for the ouster of the state’s Left party premier – as well as against the backdrop of the recent terrorist attack in the city of Hanau where a shooter killed 9 people of immigrant origin.
Among other things, the controversy in Thuringia earlier in February cause German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to announce her upcoming withdrawal as leader of the CDU, and, respectively, as a prospective successor of Merkel as Chancellor of Germany, re-opening the race for the leadership of the German conservatives.
“This result should wake us all up bit and show us that, right now, there’s a lot at stake,” said German Health Minister Jens Spahn, who is mentioned as one of the contenders to succeed Kramp-Karrenbauer.
“It’s Hamburg. It’s Thuringia. It’s the poll results. It’s the position of the party,” he said.
The results in Hamburg mean that the SPD’s Peter Tschentscher is due to remain in office as Hamburg’s mayor.
“We have to hold our ground against the federal trend,” SPD lead candidate and incumbent Hamburg mayor Peter Tschentscher told the news agency AFP ahead of the vote, referring to the fact that the country-wide support for the SPD hovers at about 15%.
“Nazis out! Nazis out!,” cheered SPD supporters during a live broadcast on public TV station ARD as it was unclear whether the far-right AfD would surpass the 5% threshold for remaining in Hamburg’s state parliament.
“The situation in the state parliament in Thuringia was, for the whole country, a shock. In this situation, a lot of people return to old parties like the Social Democrats,” Farid Müller, Green candidate in the Hamburg-Mitte district, told Politico EU.
Hamburg is one of the German states where the AfD has had the lowest levels of public support.
(Banner image: Peter Tschentscher on Twitter)