Elections in Schleswig-Holstein 07.05.2017

Election night report Schleswig-Holstein 07.05.2017

Again, a governing coalition was voted out of office at a Land parliamentary election. All parties of the “coast coalition” (Social Democrats, Greens and the regional Voters’ Association) suffered losses; the highest were suffered by the Social Democrats (SPD). It is highly probable that for the first time since Land parliamentary elections in Thuringia 2014 the office of Prime Minister will go to another party. The SPD would, thus, for the first time in a long while loose this office, the Conservatives (CDU) would gain one instead.

On federal level the results will be interpreted as strong backing for CDU and Chancellor Merkel as well as a heavy setback for the ambitions of SPD chair and chancellor candidate Martin Schulz; an interpretation which could be confirmed next election Sunday in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Contrary to Land parliamentary elections in 2016 elections in Schleswig-Holstein demonstrate – similar to the ones in Saarland – a high amount of Land political features and only little influence by federal politics.

Voter turnout (64.2 %) increased clearly compared to the historical low of 2012. Then, only 60 % of voters attended mainly due to a demobilizing campaign of the conservatives. Accordingly, the conservatives could now gain from former non-voters.  All assumptions and ideas about the Alternative for Germany (AfD) significantly gaining from non-voters proved unfounded. It barely profited from increased voter turnout, proof of the little relevance federal politics had on the elections.

The SPD re-approaches her historically bad results of 2009. The personality of a Minister President cannot mobilise the party as it worked for other Lands and parties with e.g. Kretschmann (Greens in Baden-Wurttemberg) or Dreyer (Social Democrats in Rhineland-Palatinate). The defeat of the SPD is thus threefold: for the Land party, for the Minister President, and for the hybrid new “confidence” of the federal party. The upsurge in the polls seems to have been built on the drifting sand of voter support.

The CDU won the elections because it succeeded to stronger mobilise it traditional voter potential without already exhausting it. There was no strong intention of a policy change in the country. A change of government including the prime minister would rather have been considered an unintended, yet accepted consequence.

The Greens reach nearly the result projected in the polls before election day. The two-figure result stands out from the tristesse of federal polls; on the other hand it was achieved against the federal party. The Land organization with its prime candidates Habeck and Heinold campaigned in clear differentiation from the federal party. The Greens mostly achieved their good results from women and employed academics. The success of the Greens will mainly be to become a necessary partner when it comes to forming the government, unless CDU and SPD form a truly great coalition.

The liberals (FDP) clearly gain, thanks to their eternal prime candidate Kubicki. Since the good prospects to enter parliament in North Rhine-Westphalia on May 14 as well, the party can optimistically look towards federal elections. They could be part of a coalition government in Schleswig-Holstein.

The SSW (South Schleswig Voters’ Association, representing the Danish and Frisian minorities) looses about one per cent. That could be due to its first time having been part of a coalition government.

The AfD passes the election threshold and enters the 12th Land parliament, yet with the relatively worst result of all its Land organisations. A fundamental reason for that is that there is no “convenient opportunity” for them to fuel anger and indignation about the policy of the other parties. The momentum they gained from the refugees’ policy is currently disrupted. Whether this issue will return until federal elections or a new populistic dynamic under the “foreigners/Islam” header can be kindled, has yet to be seen.

The pirate party disappears from Land parliament unsung. They were not able to bind voters yet they retain an astonishing amount of attractiveness among young voters. Presumably they will enter history as a lesson for how to squander a political opportunity. At the same time, there is no sign that their former voter potential has found another political home.

DIE LINKE misses entry to parliament again, even though results were better than in 2012 (gain in absolute votes: +87%). A strong backwind for the upcoming elections looks differently. Entry to parliament in 2009 only succeeded in the slipstream of coinciding federal elections, yet no appropriate party organization and membership acquisition took place. Not much seems to have changed in that matter in 2017, despite the above average results with younger voters and in urban areas. Thus, the result is part of a row of several other results since 2011 – a tender hint at a beginning change of voters and membership, but without political vigour yet.

Coalition formation: The new parliament will have 73 seats; a government majority thus will need 37. A continuation of the former coalition (34 mandates) will not be possible, neither a coalition of two partners such as CDU and Greens (35 mandates). A government out of three parties will have to be formed if the very unpopular great coalition of CDU and SPD (46 mandates) shall not come about.

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