In two election rounds in two German states that were considered indicators of the national mood, the far-right Alternative for Germany party rose, while the three parties that make up the federal coalition government in the country suffered significant losses.
The conservative forces achieved clear victories in both the states of Bavaria and Hesse. In Bavaria, the Christian Social Union, a sister party to the center-right CDU, is expected to win 36.6% of the vote, slightly lower than the party’s result in the last state election in 2018. In Hesse, from The Christian Democratic Union is expected to win 34.6% of the votes.
But arguably the biggest winner that night was the AfD, a party that has become increasingly radical since its founding in 2013. The AfD is expected to come in second place in both Bavaria and Hesse, a win History of the party.
The AfD’s strong performance outside its traditional stronghold in the former East German states suggests that the party has succeeded in broadening its support base. This development has already sparked a renewed wave of soul-searching among the leaders of the major parties.
“The AfD’s increasing performance cannot but worry every democrat in this country,” Ricarda Lange, co-leader of the Green Party, said on public television. “I would like to see us move away from finger-pointing and for every Democratic Party to now think about what we can do to make that happen.” [the election results] “It will look different again in the future.”
In both Bavaria and Hesse, the three parties that make up German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s ruling coalition – the centre-left Social Democrats, the Greens, and the liberal Free Democrats – saw their support decline. This outcome demonstrated widespread dissatisfaction with the federal government at a time of growing economic and social insecurity.
The German economy has been stuck in a prolonged stalemate, partly precipitated by rising energy prices in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A sharp rise in the number of asylum seekers entering Germany this year and a growing shortage of affordable housing have also added to voter dissatisfaction.
The AfD was clearly able to capitalize on this discontent. Robert Lambro, leader of the AfD’s parliamentary group in the state of Hesse, where the party was expected to win 18.5% of the vote, described the party’s performance in the state as “amazing.” He added that many people “feel there needs to be a change in policy.” We have high inflation, high energy prices, and high rents. We have completely uncontrolled mass immigration. There is a lot to do here.”
In Bavaria, the Alternative for Germany party was expected to win 15.7% of the vote, just ahead of the Free Voters Party, a right-wing upstart party ruling in coalition with the Christian Social Union in the state.
Germany’s ruling federal coalition government is already often plagued by infighting, especially between the Green Party and the Free Democratic Party – two parties that are ideologically opposed in many respects. The poor result achieved by the coalition parties may exacerbate the dispute, as each party seeks to strengthen its support base.
In the state of Hesse, the former stronghold of the Social Democratic Party, the Social Democrats suffered an embarrassing defeat, obtaining only 15.1 percent of the votes, according to expectations. What makes the loss even more painful for the party is that its candidate in the state is Schulz’s federal interior minister, Nancy Feiser, who described the result in a speech as “extremely disappointing.”
With such a poor result, many are now wondering whether Visser will be able to keep her position as Interior Minister. Chancellor Schulz is likely to face pressure to make sweeping changes in order to reverse the fortunes of his party and coalition.
The election result was particularly disastrous for the Free Democratic Party, the junior partner in Schulz’s coalition. The party received only 2.9 percent of the votes in Bavaria and 5 percent of the votes in Hesse, according to expectations. The party faces the risk of leaving the two state parliaments if it fails to meet the required 5 percent.
For the leaders of Germany’s federal coalition government, the election results have already raised loud alarm bells. The only question is whether there is enough unity within the coalition to change the course of things.
“Of course, we are not deaf and blind. All of us in this coalition should recognize the signals,” Kevin Kuhnert, secretary-general of the Social Democratic Party, said on German public television after the initial election results came in.
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