The big news in the electoral world is Germany’s major federal election held yesterday, for the German lower house, the Bundestag. As reported yesterday, the CDU-CSU and its liberal ally, the FDP, won a surprise majority coalition government last night, contrary to what latest polling trends and observers had been predicting. German social democracy and the SPD had its worst night, since, well, the 1933 or 1932 election. However, the night was mostly a good night for Germany’s three smaller parties, right and left. The FDP, Greens and Left Party all won their best results in their history last night. The combined CDU and SPD also polled barely 56-57%, their lowest point. Without further talk, results:
CDU 27.3% (-0.5%) winning 194 seats (+14)
SPD 23.0% (-11.2%) winning 146 seats (-76)
FDP 14.6% (+4.8%) winning 93 seats (+32)
The Left 11.9% (+3.2%) winning 76 seats (+22)
Greens 10.7% (+2.6%) winning 68 seats (+17)
CSU 6.5% (-0.9%) winning 45 seats (-1)
Pirate 2.0% (new) winning 0 seats (new)
NPD 1.5% (-0.1%) winning 0 seats (nc)
CDU-CSU (Union) 33.8% (-1.4%) winning 239 seats (+13)
The CDU-FDP (black-yellow) coalition has 332 seats, which is a comfortable overall majority of 20 in the Bundestag. Due to overhang mandates, of which there were quite many, the legislature has 8 more members, meaning that it now holds 622 members.
Angela Merkel will remain Chancellor, but this time with the FDP as coalition partners, leading to a more consensual approach to governing (since the CDU and FDP are better coalition partners than, say, CDU and SPD). Guido Westerwelle, the leader of the FDP, will likely become Foreign Minister and the government’s second-man (like the SPD front-runner, Steinmeier was). Due to their gains and the CDU’s weak showing, they can press the CDU for a number of important spots: Economy, Finances or Justice are thrown out there. The SPD will be able to re-build while in opposition, unless they sink into inner-party squabbles or if they adopt a line which can’t win back SPD voters which voted Left or Green this election. If they do rebuild, as I expected them to, they can expect some gains in the 2013 federal election. But it’s way too far out to predict 2013!
In the constituency vote, the CDU won 173 seats, 67 more than in 2005; while the SPD lost 81 and now holds only 64. The CSU won 45, while the Left Party broke through much more than expected in direct seats, winning 16 seats, which is up from only 3 in 2005. The Greens held their sole direct seat in downtown Berlin. The SPD holds on only in its northern Hessian and southern Lower Saxonian strongholds, as well as the very left-wing Ruhr region, its solid support in Bremen and the North Sea coast of Lower Saxony, as well as isolated industrial or urban centres. The SPD narrowly lost its sole Bavarian constituency, Munich North to the CSU. In addition, by the loss of its three seats in Saxony, the CDU now holds all seats in that state. What is also noteworthy this election is the ever increasing amount of direct MPs elected with less than 40% of the vote, even in the West (in the East it was more common before, due to the Left and so forth). And the ever declining number of direct seats giving the winner over 50% of the vote: 95 in 2005 (56 CDU-CSU, 39 SPD) and only 31 this time (29 CDU-CSU, 2 SPD). In addition, 12 direct MPs (by my count) won over 60% of the vote, now it’s down to only 2 (one CSU and one CDU).
Let’s have a look at the results by party. The maps below are maps of the second-vote (list vote) results. Errors are possible.
The CDU (CSU in Bavaria, yeah) didn’t have a swell night last night either. Despite the media’s fixation on Merkel’s great victory, her party fell to its worst result since 1949 and it only did better in the seat count due to its owning of the SPD in the direct seats. However, they didn’t do as bad as their coalition partner, the SPD. The CDU’s map has some correlation with Catholicism, its best areas usually tend to be very Catholic. It tend to does well in rural areas, obviously, but also decently well in more well-off urban areas, though that is downplayed on these maps due to the FDP polling very well in those areas too. Its worst areas remain East Berlin, most of the industrial Ruhr Valley, northern Hesse and so forth, and most of East Germany except Saxony (where there’s a CDU tradition since 1990) and Merkel’s home state, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
Last night was a real nightmare for German social democracy and the SPD. The party lost over 10% of the vote, and its voters clearly punished it for its junior status in a overall right-leaning government. While still higher that its results in the past two Euro elections, the SPD’s level last night was only lower just prior to the Third Reich. The SPD polled best in northern Hesse and southern Lower Saxony, a largely low-income and rural Protestant area which has been one of the SPD’s strongest areas since 1949 (though the FDP did very well in northern Hesse circa 1949 or so). It also did well in, obviously, the industrial and mining Ruhr Valley and also in Aurich-Emden constituency in Frisia, an isolated area with little industry (though the SPD does well in Wilhelmshaven, an industrial suburb of Bremen). Its other areas of relative success include Bremen, a stronghold of the SPD, the working-class areas of Hamburg, the industrial (or not) cities of Kiel, Lubeck, Karlsruhe, Worms, so on and so forth. It also performs better in Brandenburg than in any other East German state, probably due to a better implanted SPD. The party did very poorly in Berlin, a city where it usually polls very well and is one of the only parties with east-west support in the polarized city.
The FDP’s map is quite boring. It’s a map, overall, of where the wealthy people live in Germany. It’s exceptionally strong in suburbia, the wealthy suburbia of Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Cologne, Dusseldorf, and Hamburg. About the only non-wealth related pattern are the wine-growing regions of the Rhineland-Palatinate where there seems to subsist a winemaker-for-FDP tradition. It did predictably poorly in most of East Germany save for the few wealthy areas, mostly in Saxony. There is little Protestant FDP tradition left in areas like northern Hesse or Upper Franconia.
Spot the GDR! While the Left’s nets gains were probably strongest in the West (I don’t know for sure, but they probably even had some net losses in some places), it’s proven fact that their base is still the East, and East Berlin in particular. Removing the old GDR, the only darker area is the Saarland, where the Left’s vote is based on Oskar Lafontaine. They broke 10.5% in a few left-wing, mostly old industrial, constituencies in the West.
The Greenies remain a predominantly urban party, as it is in about every other European country. Their best showings came in Berlin-Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg-Prenzlauer Berg Ost, which is predominantly hippie/alternative land and also the CDU and FDP’s worst constituency in all of Germany, and also in Freiburg – a younger university town which is also a big ‘eco-city’. Almost all of their strong showings came in these type of cities. And they’re very weak in rural areas.
Yeah, there were also state elections in Schleswig-Holstein and Brandenburg, but I’ve got a lot of backlog work to do on here, so they’ll wait for some time! Apologies for the delay in getting all the posts up there.