Hard on the heels of national election losses, Angela Merkel’s CDU suffered another setback in yesterday’s regional election in Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony). Having been clearly ahead in the August and early September opinion polls, and with hopes of taking the state after the defection of a Green MP had led to an early election, the CDU ended up being clearly defeated by the Social Democrats (SPD). The latter put on 4.3 percentage points compared to January 2013 and gained an additional six seats in the Hannover regional parliament.
For the CDU, this was their lowest vote share in the state since 1959. For the SPD, it was a personal triumph for local leader Stephan Wall, who was persistently rated ahead of his challenger Bernd Althusmann by the public. Although the two final opinion polls had shown the SPD narrowly moving ahead, the eventual 3.3 per cent gap was larger than than FG Wahlen’s estimate of 1.5 per cent on 12 October and INSA’s 1 per cent margin on 9 October.
However the pill was sugar coated for the Christian Democrats as the ruling Red-Green coalition fell just one seat short of a majority in the 137-strong assembly. This was entirely down to a poor Green performance, with the environmentalists losing 8 of their 20 seats and five percentage points on second vote share.
The liberal Free Democrats (FDP) failed to match their gains on the national stage and fell back from 9.9 to 7.5 per cent of the Niedersachsen vote, against 10.7 per cent won for the Bundestag. They quickly ruled out entering any coalition in Hannover.
For the populist AfD, a score of 6.2 per cent meant the party is now represented in 14 of Germany’s 16 state parliaments (it had not been founded at the time of the last Lower Saxon election). However yesterday’s AfD figure is three points below its Niedersachsen score in the Federal election just three weeks ago – a slump attributed to public infighting during the election campaign among a divided regional party.
Finally the leftist Die Linke failed again to clear the 5 per cent hurdle to enter parliament, after similar disappointments in Schleswig-Holstein and Nordrhein-Westfalen earlier this year. It continues to lack seats in six regional parliaments, all in the former West Germany.
Turnout at 63 per cent was up four points, continuing the positive trend seen in all German elections so far this year.
NIEDERSACHSEN 15 October 2017
Second vote scores for Landtag, per cent
(change on 2013 election in brackets)
Social Democrats (SPD) 36.9 (+4.3) or 1,413,630 votes
Christian Democrats (CDU) 33.6 (-2.4) or 1,287,340
Greens (Die Gruenen) 8.7 (-5.0) or 334,119
Free Democrats (FDP) 7.5 (-2.4) or 287,923
Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) 6.2 (n/a) or 235,840
Left (Die Linke) 4.6 (+1.5) or 177,107
Others 2.4 (-2.2) or 91,706
Eligible voters 6,097,564
Total votes 3,849,002
Invalid votes 21,247
Valid second votes 3,827,755
Turnout 63.1% (2013: 59.4%)
Seat allocations in Landtag
Social Democrats (SPD) 55 (+6)
Christian Democrats (CDU) 50 (-4)
Greens (Die Gruenen) 12 (-8)
Free Democrats (FDP) 11 (-3)
Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) 9 (+9)
Left (Die Linke) 0 (nc)
Others 0 (nc)
Total seats 137 (previously 137)
Source: Niedersaechsische Landeswahlleiterin. Full provisional official results here.
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