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Bavaria: Conservatives Take Big Hit in State Elections

Update October 15th, 2018, 6:45 a.m.: The final numbers are in. CSU: 37.2 percent, the Greens: 17.5, ‘Freie Wähler’: 11.6, AfD: 10.2, SPD: 9.7, FDP: 5.1, the Left: 3.2 percent.

The ultra-conservative CSU has suffered substantial losses in today’s federal state elections in the German province of Bavaria. According to a projection released the moment the polling stations closed, the sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU got only 35.5 percent of the votes.

In 2013, the CSU had gotten 47.7 percent of the votes. It had been able to govern on its own with an outright majority of seats in the Bavarian state parliament (‘Landtag’). Since 1957, the party of governor Markus Söder and Germany’s Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer, has been ruling Bavaria. Most of the time, the conservatives did so alone.

Now Söder will need coalition partners. According to most observers, forming a government with the Greens will prove to be either difficult or impossible, due to contrary positions in most areas.

The Greens are one of the two big winners of the evening, if the projections prove to be accurate. They got 19 percent of the votes, compared to 8.6 percent in 2013. Now the Greens of Bavaria are the second-strongest party in the province.

According to the projection, the center-left Social Democrats SPD are confronted with a catastrophic loss. The SPD is now at only 9.5, which is their worst Bavarian result of all time. At this stage it looks like the Greens largely benefited from the SPD’s loss.

While the liberal FDP and the electoral alliance ‘Freie Wähler’ received 5 and 11.5, respectively, the so-called ‘Alternative für Deutschland’ (AfD) will be entering the Bavarian state parliament with the 11 percent of the votes it got.

The AfD is a radical right-wing party which opposes immigration. Some of their members openly demonstrate with Nazis and are known for scandalous quotes in that very direction. Their co-leader Alexander Gauland has said the Germans had to be allowed to be “proud of what German soldiers accomplished in the two world wars”.

In Bavaria, 9.5 million people had been eligible to take part in the election. The polling stations closed at 6 p.m. local time. The turnout rose sharply, to 72 percent.

Because of the latest Berlin government crises, governor Söder had asked voters not to punish his party for the latest scandals in the German capital. This election was entirely about Bavaria, he had kept on stressing on the campaign trail.

The ‘Freie Wähler’ alliance are the CSU’s favorite coalition partner, since they seem to be the most compatible candidate. It remains to be seen whether the numbers will make this kind of partnership possible.

Lars Klingbeil, the SPD’s secretary general, was one of the first Berlin politicians to react. He said there was nothing to sugarcoat. His party had suffered a big defeat. The Bavarian result would be analyzed and discussed, Klingbeil said.

Twenty-one minutes after the polling stations closed, governor Markus Söder told his party, this was a difficult evening. But his CSU was still the strongest party in Bavaria. It had received a mandate to govern.

The next federal state elections, in Germany’s Hesse province, will take place on October 28th, 2018.

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