Bremen (Germany) 2007

A state election was held in Bremen on May 22, 2011. All 83 seats in the Bremische Bürgerschaft were up for re-election. The parliament’s 83 members are split between 68 members from Bremen and 15 members from the city of Bremerhaven, which is an exclave of the city-state of Bremen. A party must win over 5% of the vote in one of the two constituent cities of the city-state in order to win representation. This means that a party winning 6% in one but 4% in the other will still be represented. This year, voters have five votes which they cast as they wish in favour of candidates or a party list as a whole. Voters aged 16 and over are allowed to vote in Bremen.

Bremen, one of northern Germany’s most important industrial cities, has been a SPD stronghold for the vast majority of the last hundred years. The SPD has been the strongest party in Bremen since 1945, and was the strongest party for almost all the duration of the Weimar Republic. The SPD has governed in the city-state since 1945, governing alone between 1971 and 1991, but following an unsuccessful traffic-light (SPD-FDP-Green) coalition in 1991, a grand coalition was formed with the CDU in 1995, an election which saw major SPD loses and the CDU almost becoming the largest party. The CDU-SPD Grand Coalition continued in 1999 and 2003 despite the existence of a red-green majority, but following the 2007 election which saw the Greens win what was, until 2011, the best state election result for them (16.5%), a SPD-Green coalition was formed with Jens Böhrnsen as Mayor.

SPD 38.6% (+1.9%) winning 36 seats (+4)
Green 22.5% (+6%) winning 21 seats (+7)
CDU 20.3% (-5.3%) winning 20 seats (-3)
Linke 5.6% (-2.8%) winning 5 seats (-2)
BIW 3.7% (+2.9%) winning 1 seat (nc)
FDP 2.4% (-3.6%) winning 0 seats (-5)
Pirates 1.9% (+1.9%) winning 0 seats (nc)
NPD 1.6% (+1.6%) winning 0 seats (nc)
Others 3.4% (-2.6%) winning 0 seats (-1)

Given the left-wing nature of Bremen, nothing in all this should be too surprising. Furthermore, given the unpopularity of the federal CDU-FDP coalition, a third-place showing for the CDU and a rout for the FDP shouldn’t surprise much. But it’s still, as far as I know, the first third-place showing for the CDU in a West German state since the 1950s or so.

The far-right populist Bürger in Wut won 7% and one seat in Bremerhaven, where far-right outfits such as the BIW or prior that the DVU have always enjoyed relative success. There were interesting gaps between swings in both constituent cities, which saw broadly similar overall results. In Bremerhaven, the SPD vote dropped 0.6% while the Green vote skyrocketed by 9.8%; but in Bremen the SPD vote increased by 2.2% and the Green vote by a more modest 5.2%.

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Posted on May 29, 2011, in Bremen, Germany, Regional and local elections. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. In Bremerhaven, the SPD vote dropped 0.6% while the Green vote skyrocketed by 9.8%; but in Bremen the SPD vote increased by 2.2% and the Green vote by a more modest 5.2%.

    I am guessing, though, that the divergent Green fortunes are partly explained by the Greens already having done really well in the city of Bremen last time, and came from further behind in Bremerhaven?

    Like, they were already closer to maxed out, so to say, in the city, whereas they only now had their big breakthrough in Bremerhaven too?

  2. Some further salient elements of these elections:

    * This was not just, obviously, the best result of the Greens ever in the city state; it was also easily the best result of the left overall (SPD + Greens + PDS/Linke + KPD/etc) since World War 2.

    * It was the worst result for the Christian-Democrats since 1959.

    * It was the worst result for the FDP (and its forebears) since World War 2.

    In light of such stats, I disagree a little that “nothing in all this should be too surprising”. Look at this impressively consistent rally of the left-wing parties together, in the state of Bremen, over the last fifteen years or so:

    2011 – 68%
    2007 – 62%
    2003 – 57%
    1999 – 55%
    1995 – 49%

    That’s like, a sea change, I’d say, considering that in the decades before 1995, the left seems to have generally hovered around the 50-55% mark.

  3. Forgot to include this link for historical election results in the previous post.

    Finally, this is just on a note of mere trivia, just messing about really; but I was trawling through the results by individual voting station (Wahlbezirke), and these are the record scores for each party, for your entertainment:

    SPD: 60.2% (445-05 Oslebshausen)
    Greens: 49.2% (113-02 Ostertor)
    CDU: 51.9% (341-03 Horn) (a)
    Linke: 19.8% (373-05 Tenever)
    BIW: 11.1% (531-02 Blumenthal)
    FDP: 6.8% (361-06 Oberneuland and 411-01 Blockland)
    Pirates: 6.3% (342-01 Lehe)
    NPD: 7.4% (513-02 Burgdamm)

    (a) The highest score for the CDU would be 61.4% if you count the separate Wahlbezirke where mail-in votes were counted for the different neighbourhoods; that’s what the CDU got in district 271-99 (Strom Briefwahl).

    What surprised me about these numbers was that the SPD has a fairly evenly spread electorate; a top score of 60% compared to an overall score of 39% is not much of a “peak,” especially compared with the spikes for other parties in different districts.

    I was also surprised that the Linke got as much as 20% in a part of Bremen. Using the interactive maps on the Bremen Landeswahlleiter site where you can compare party scores with demographic data for past elections (though not yet for 2011, alas), it seems that support for the Linke is strongly correlated with the percentage of unemployed people and receivers of Harz benefits – but not with low average incomes overall. So more of a niche party for the marginalized and excluded than a broader working class party. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

  1. Pingback: Berlin (Germany) 2011 « World Elections

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