Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A little election in Germany with big meaning

A little election in Germany with big meaning
Saarland Germany election results:
all left parties down, all right wing parties up.
Saarland is a small Land along the French border.
The next Saarland Landtag (something like a state assembly) probably will be a continuation of the current Christian Democrat - Social Democrat coalition. 
This is probably a good indication on how the national vote will go and what this means is that Merkel will probably be reelected, possibly with a larger vote and probably with the same national coalition with the Social Democrats as junior partner.  This is the status quo in Saarland and what Germany has for a government coalition nationally. 
The loss on the left hit the alternative left more than the Social Democrats.
Greens, Left Party and Social Democrats all went down a few votes.  The Social Democrats have the same amount of seats and about 30% of the popular vote.  The Left Party lost two seats and went down from 16 to 13 percent of votes cast. 
With  a combined 43% of the vote the Left Party and the Social Democrats are in no condition to form a government after much speculation that they would form a “Red-Red” government, or maybe a Red-Red-Green” majority.
For both “red” parties the loss was severe. 
The Social Democrats were supposed to be on an upswing with a dynamic woman candidate for Saarland leader and Martin Schulz, the new national Chancellor candidate and party leader. Both were considered to be offering new enthusiasm and leadership, and to go down half a percent in Saarland has to be seen as them both failing. 
The Left Party was also supposed to be on an upswing providing dynamic leadership on the left away from the establishment Social Democrats, akin to the new Labor leadership in the UK, Podemos in Spain and something of a kindred spirit to our own Bernie Sanders. 
Instead of picking up votes, the Left Party dropped three percent and that is despite the historic and legendary leadership of Oskar Lafontaine who helped found the Left Party after splitting away from the Social Democrats having been their former national leader and the former head of the government of Saarland.  This may be the end of Lafontaine’s decades long career and will be a major hit on the Left Party credibility nationally, especially as an alternative to the far right. 
In the case of the Greens, a one percent drop was enough to go under the 5% needed to have proportional seats, so they will not be represented with their current 4%. 
The Pirate Party basically disappeared having had 7% in the last Landtag.  Their vote this time was less than 1% and they too will not be in the new assembly.  I’m counting the Pirate Party as something of a protest, popular group, which is debatable, but it is important that this protest seems to be over. 
The move to the right was split into three parts:
1 status quo 2 extreme right 3 moderate right
Merkel’s Christian Democrats jumped up five points to just over 40% vote share. 
Further to the right, the “Alliance for Germany” qualifies for proportional representation with 6% of the ballots on the first time that they run at this Land level.  They have had other success at the local level along the same lines, including in Merkel’s home Land in the former East Germany.  This is the group most akin to the US Tea Party, the National Front with Le Pen in France or the UKIP who pushed for the Brexit. 
We should expect the German extreme right to become part of the next national Bundestag, which is a proportionally representative house akin to our House of Representatives with the major exception that they choose the head of government, the Chancellor, who is currently Angela Merkel. 
And Merkel will NEVER form a government together with the anti-foreign, ultra nationalist Alliance for Germany.  German history will not allow for that.  She will not allow for that having a sense of history and a personal commitment to civil rights after growing up under the East German Stasi police state. 
The Free Democrats (sometimes translated as the “Liberals”) did not qualify for seats with only 3% of the vote, but that is two percent more than last time.  They are the older, more traditional “other” center right party in Germany and have served in many coalition governments locally and federally, most often with the Christian Democrats. 
The Free Democrats would be Merkel’s preference for a coalition government, but they are not meeting the 5% benchmark needed to win seats and in Saarland they will have nothing to offer in their next legislature. 
That puts the Social Christians back in bed with their friends and rivals the Social Democrats with neither of them having anywhere else to go or anyone else that they can form a government with. 
These are all small changes in the vote patterns, especially when compared to France or Spain, but they are clearly a small shift towards a center right who is currently in power and by all indications will continue to stay in power. 

1 comment:

  1. This poll was taken before the Saarland vote, but tabulated and released after. It shows the same trends nationwide, albeit with less support for the ultra right than earlier polling.