Both of Germany’s grand coalition partners suffered grim losses in yesterday’s Federal election while the nationalist AfD entered parliament for the first time as the country’s third political force.
The CDU/CSU combination led by Chancellor Angela Merkel lost around a fifth of its votes, sinking to a combined total of 33 per cent – both components of the alliance suffering their lowest vote shares since the founding Federal election in 1949.
For the opposition Social Democrats (SPD), whose future had looked so bright early in 2017 under new leader Martin Schulz, there was equal humiliation as they fell back by a similar proportion to just 20.5 per cent. This was a low without precedent in the Federal Republic.
With 94 members elected to the Bundestag, the debut of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) was stunning, and for many, shocking. The party gained eight percentage points and exit polls estimated that nearly 1 million voters switched directly from the CDU/CSU to the AfD, clearly often motivated by dislike of Merkel’s immigration policies.
The Free Democrat FDP benefited from a change of leadership to make an equally storming return to parliament after an unprecedented electoral term without Bundestag representation. New helmsman Christian Lindner will now play a critical role in coalition negotiations.
Both the leftist Die Linke and the Greens (Gruene) broadly held their ground after some alarms in opinion polling in recent months. The Greens will now also participate in discussions over government formation, the SPD having indicated (for the moment at least) that it wishes to return to opposition.
In contrast to fears some had expressed before voting day, turnout was up by 4.2 percentage points to 76.2 per cent.
Thanks to the formulas in Germany’s two-tier electoral system designed to ensure proportionality, a record number of members will sit in the Bundestag chamber. 709 have been elected, compared to 631 in the previous parliamentary term.
GERMANY 24 September 2017
Second vote scores for Bundestag, per cent
(change on 2013 election in brackets)
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) 26.8 (-7.4) or 12,445,832
Christian Social Union (CSU) 6.2 (-1.2) or 2,869,744
Social Democratic Party (SPD) 20.5 (-5.2) or 9.538,367
Free Democratic Party (FDP) 10.7 (+6.0) or 4,997,178
Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) 12.6 (+7.9) or 5,877,094
Greens (Gruene) 8.9 (+0.5) or 4,157,564
The Left (Die Linke) 9.2 (+0.6) or 4,296,762
Others 5.0 (-1.2) or 2,324,316
Total votes 46,973,799
Invalid votes 466,942
Valid votes 46,506,857
Turnout 76.2% (2013: 71.6%)
Seat allocations in Bundestag
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) 200 (-55)
Christian Social Union (CSU) 46 (-10)
Social Democratic Party (SPD) 153 (-40)
Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) 94 (+94)
Free Democratic Party (FDP) 80 (+80)
The Left (Die Linke) 69 (+5)
Greens (Gruene) 67 (+4)
Others 0 (nc)
Total seats 709 (previously 631)
Source: Der Bundeswahlleiter. Full provisional official results here.
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