Elections to the Hessian Landtag will be held on January 18, a bit less than a year after the very close 2008 elections. The left (SPD, Greens, Linke) was not able to form a stable majority under Andrea Ypsilanti. The CDU incumbent, Roland Koch, was favoured to win the 2008 elections by a relatively large margin until he made remarks that were interpreted as xenophobic (immigrant youth criminals), and he narrowly “lost” to an hypothetical left-wing coalition, but remained acting Minister-President since that coalition never materialized. He is now the leading candidate for the CDU, and he faces the SPD top candidate, Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel, who is trying to portray himself as the Hessian Barack Obama. Unfortunately for Schäfer-Gümbel, who is unknown to a majority of voters, that doesn’t seem to work, as voters are likely to punish the SPD at the polls and turn to the CDU in large numbers.
The 2008 results were
CDU 36.8 (-12.0) winning 42 seats (-14)
SPD 36.7 (+7.6) winning 42 seats (+9)
FDP 9.4 (+1.5) winning 11 seats (+2)
Greens 7.2 (-2.6) winning 9 seats (-3)
Left 5.2 (+5.1) winning 6 seats (+6)
Others 4.5 (+0.4)
Below is a map of the direct-vote for the 2008 election, and not the second vote (party vote).
Current polling indicates a majority for a potential CDU-liberal (FDP) coalition government, as the one in power from 1999 to 2003 (when the CDU won a massive victory and an outright majority). The last poll, by FG Wahlen, applied to election.de’s mandate-calculator gives the following. The CDU-FDP has 61 seats out of 110 seats.
CDU 41% 46 seats
SPD 25% 28 seats
FDP 13% 15 seats
Greens 13% 15 seats
Left 5% 6 seats
In addition, election.de projects that the CDU will win 49 (26 safe, 9 likely, 14 leaning) out of the 55 direct seats, leaving the SPD with only 6 seats (2 likely, 4 leaning). Here is their map. The SPD would only hold their current seats in northern Hesse (Kassel), their stronghold. Northern Hesse is Protestant country, but was quite conservative in the past (Anti-semites, nationalists, and the NSDAP all did well in the past in that area). Northern Hesse is also much less wealthy than the wealthy western and northwestern ultra-CDU suburbs of Frankfurt. The Greens will likely gain back that ground lost in 2008 due to a squeezing of their vote (“useful voting”, though that’s a term I hate to use, for the SPD against the CDU) and maybe do even better than their 10% in 2003.
This election marks the start of Superwahljahr (Super Election Year) in Germany with five state elections (Hesse, Saarland, Thuringia, Saxony, and Brandenburg), locals in over half the country, EU elections, an indirect presidential election, and finally a federal election.