Saxony-Anhalt (Germany) 2011
A general election for the 105-seat Landtag of the east German state of Saxony-Anhalt was held on March 20. These elections were rather under the radar and not too suspenseful, because all eyes are set on Baden-Württemberg which votes next Sunday, March 27, in a very important state election.
Saxony-Anhalt is a rather artificial state with little historical tradition, being composed of parts of various traditional states, and people in the state feel little attachment to the actual state. All in all, the state shares the poverty and social problems of all other ex-GDR states, but is more diverse than we’d like to think. The north of the state is covered by very fertile land, whereas the southern Saal and Elbe valley with the old GDR chemical industry centered in Halle, Merseburg and Bitterfeld and mining areas is far more industrial. The CDU has been in power in the state since 2002, in power with the FDP until 2006 and since then as part of a Grand Coalition. A SPD minority administration tolerated by Die Linke, a setup styled the Magdeburg Model, governed between 1994 and 2002. Aside from 1998, the CDU has always been the strongest party in the state while Die Linke has placed second since 2002. The far-right DVU won a shocking 13% in 1998, but the far-right has lacked representation since 2002.
Turnout went up to 51.2%, which is roughly 6.7% over the historically low 44% turnout in 2006.
CDU 32.5% (-3.7%) winning 41 seats (+1)
Die Linke 23.7% (-0.4%) winning 29 seats (+3)
SPD 21.5% (+0.1%) winning 26 seats (+2)
Green 7.1% (+3.6%) winning 9 seats (+9)
NPD 4.6% (+4.6%) winning 0 seats (nc)
FDP 3.8% (-2.8%) winning 0 seats (-7)
The result will likely be a continuation of the old CDU-SPD coalition which seems to please both parties, even though there are the seats for a left-wing majority red-red-green, but again, the timeless issue of whether or not the Linke should be allowed to get their hands on the office of Minister-President.
The results are pretty mediocre for all three major parties, which have all either lost votes or stagnated. The results for the FDP are disastrous, and unlike in Hamburg they are in line with the FDP’s dire straits nationally. In reality, only the Greens can unambiguously be said to have come out of the election better than it entered it. Its 7% showing is its best showing ever in one of the party’s weakest states (poor, east German and industrial do not breed well for the Greens, normally). Given that the Greens polling well nationally is nothing new, it’s been visible since 2010, it is hard to say how much of this result is due to national circumstances and how much is due to the “Fukushima nuclear effect” in the wake of the potential nuclear disaster in Japan and the disastrous tsunami there. Certainly Fukushima has reignited the nuclear debate in Germany, where nuclear power is very unpopular, and where the Greens poll very well on the nuclear issue.
Baden-Württemberg (and Rhineland-Palatinate) votes next week in an election which is the highlight of German elections this year. The two questions in Baden-Württemberg are, first whether or not the CDU-FDP government will lose its majority and second which of the Greens or SPD will top the left-wing vote. If the right loses its majority in a traditionally conservative state and CDU stronghold (of sorts), it will be bad news for Merkel. Further, if the Greens top the left-wing vote (as polls indicate) and the right loses its majority, the Greens will have a shot at an historic Green-SPD coalition. In Rhineland-Palatinate, the SPD will lose its overall majority but a SPD-Green coalition is very likely to come out victorious.