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Merkel & CDU win in local German state of Saarland – but lose less important Municipal elections in Frankfurt to SPD – commentary by Emil Hoogensteyn

March 25th, 2012
File:AM Juli 2010 - 3zu4.jpg

Angela Merkel - foto Wikipedia - author Armin Linnartz

[Berlin - 25th March 2011 - EH]

Merkel & CDU wins in local German state of Saarland – but lose less important Municipal elections in Frankfurt to SPD

Angela Merkel and her CDU party won local elections today in the small but densely populated State of Saarland – but her Liberal/FDP allies lost big-time getting just 1.2 % of the votes – part of continued downward spiral for her own Centre-right German government.

Germany is made up of 16 Länder or Bundesländer or “federated states” and are thus partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land in this case literally translates as “country”, and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries but they are simply referred to in English “states“.

To make things even more confusing while the term “Länder“ applies to all states, some actually describe themselves as “states” in German like Bavaria, Saxony, and Thuringia officially even describes itself as a “Freistaat`or “free state“.

The cities of Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen are Stadtstaaten or city-states and this has to do with their medieval histories and thanks for taking this all in – there are reasons for everything in this very logical of countries – and when they seem illogical it usually has to do with history.

Back to the main story of today then ………..Ms Merkel’s, or the chancellor`s CDU party won the state elections and will probably seek a so-called “Grand Coalition“with the 2nd placed Social Democrat SPD. It worked before nationally and may have to repeated in national elections next year if the FDP`s`freefall`or implosion continues.

The CDU got 35 % percent of the popular vote – which was slightly more than in the last election in 2009 – and thoroughly ahead of the SPD, who had earlier claimed to be tied in opinion polls last week.

This result will make it more and not less likely that the CDU/CSU will have to choose a new partner if they manage to win the next federal elections in 2013 – and all recent nationwide indications show this to be the case.

They got just over 30% which was a disappointment for sure – however the FDP embarrassingly did not even manage to obtain the mandatory 5 % threshold required to obtaining any representation in the state assembly. They fell from a previous result of 9 % to just 1% !

Relations between the FDP and CDU/CSU coalition partners have always been strained and recently under intense strain after the FDP directly defied Merkel’s and supported the SPD’s candidate for the German presidency, pastor Joachim Gauck.

Merkel will seek a 3rd term as chancellor in 2013 and may find the SPD easier to deal with than the FDP who have always seemed to be  opportunist losers and ’one-off’  election winners. She herself is popular and seen as a stolid – if un-dynamic leader – who Germany needs in times of the Euro debt crisis and putting Europe’s strongest economy back to being just that.

The Pirates Party successfully carried out an irreverent, imaginative and popular campaign targeting younger voters and were rewarded with a 8% result.

The Pirates stormed into German politics last year by seizing 9% percent of votes for in Berlin’s city local municipal assembly. It succeeded in attracting those who would not otherwise have voted and took votes from other parties. The Pirates are often dismissed by the bigger parties as a protest vote with no political platform.

An exit poll in Saarland indicated that up to 85% of the supporters of the Piraten Partei did so out of protest against the other parties.

Historically they have emphasized issues from their Swedish origins like computer issues dealing with data protection, internet censorship & file sharing. They have taken up social issues, civil liberty in the digital age, anti-surveillance, web-censorship, citizens’ rights, freedom and self-determination.

The Swedish party, who had 4 of its founders jailed on file sharing issues, won a seat in the European parliament in 2009 by taking 7 percent of the popular vote.Whether this trend is towards a new unknown party is a genuine vote for the Pirates Party or whether it is a negative vote against the traditional parties – a protest vote in fact – only time will tell. If you can read German than see also – http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/landtagswahl-im-saarland-das-piratennest-1.1317962

Meanwhile in the ‘Banking city’ of Frankfurt am Main – Petra Roth, the city’s 67-year-old CDU mayor who called the election because she want to step down before the end of her 3rd term had wanted so much to hand over power to her appointed successor – the present State Interior Minister of Hesse Boris Rhein.

This was the 2nd round of two and as so often happens in politics – the opposite happened of what was expected– namely Social Democrat Peter Feldmann, a 23 year veteran city councillor was elected.

The CDU candidate Rhein won the first round with 40%, compared with 33 % for the SPD’er Feldmann.

The result will come as a ‘show-stopper’ for future cooperation between Merkel’s CDU and the Green Party, which have had –until today a coalition in Frankfurt’s municipal assembly.

However because the Greens Party candidate did not get past the first round of voting the SPD’s Feldmann garnered enough Green support to defeat Rhein.

With circa 700,000 inhabitants, Frankfurt am Main is Germany’s 5th largest city after Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne and interestingly – CDU/CSU please take note – the win means all five major cities in Germany are controlled by the SPD.

Previous OTA-Berlin Constituency Blog on this topic – http://www.ota-berlin.de/blog/09/19/chancellor-merkel-actually-makes-gains-in-berlin-local-election-piraten-partei-win-first-seats-incumbent-sdp-mayor-wowereit-wins-third-term-as-expected-commentary-by-emil-hoogensteyn/

See also – http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,15837387,00.html

and  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-22/merkel-booed-in-frankfurt-as-cdu-fights-to-keep-17-years-of-rule.html

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The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of OTA-Berlin but of the contributor, in this case Mr Emil Hoogensteyn.We welcome any links to blog articles – however they may be reproduced or copied only with the prior written permission of OTA-Berlin GmbH. http://www.ota-berlin.de

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