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Germany: Stephan Weil Wins State Election in Lower Saxony

In Lower Saxony, First Minister Stephan Weil will remain in office. His Social Democrats (SPD) beat the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU). At this stage, the most likely outcome is a red-green coalition that involves the SPD and the Greens.

Mon., Oct. 10th, 2022:
>>> FIND THE FINAL RESULTS IN TODAY’S NEW ARTICLE ON THE ELECTIONS. <<<

Berlin, October 9th, 2022. Update: 7:58 p.m. CEDT (The Berlin Spectator) — In Lower Saxony, the first projections are in. According to those, the center-left SPD won, as expected. The center-right CDU, which is Governor Stephan Weil’s junior partner in the coalition he has been running since 2017, came in second. Both large parties lost some support, compared to last time. The Greens almost doubled the support they got back then. So did the radical AfD.

The Results

Lower Saxony, 7:58 p.m. CEDT:

SPD: 33.2

CDU: 28.1

Greens: 14.5

FDP: 4.9

Die Linke: 2.6

AfD: 11.2

Stephan Weil (2nd from left) just won again. Bernd Althusmann (3rd from left) came in second. Julia Willie Hamburg (left) and Christian Meyer (right) got a good result too. Photo by Anne Hufnagl (Weil), MW/Henning Scheffen (Althusmann), Sven Brauers (Hamburg and Meyer)

The Situation

About 6 million voters in Lower Saxony had the right to participate in this election. It was overshadowed by Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and the energy crisis, which is why, during the campaign, gas and electricity prices were discussed more than regional politics. Lower Saxony is a swing state. But, in the past nine years, Stephan Weil has been First Minister. At first, he ran a coalition with the Greens, before he was forced to switch to the conservatives. Now, he might switch back because the math seems to support this approach. A “red-green” coalition is his first choice.

During the campaign, Weil’s SPD said it wanted to keep Lower Saxony “in good hands”, those of “one of the most popular First Ministers”. “An economy everyone benefits from”, an education system with “chances for everyone” and “a security that strengthens everyone” were three of the items the Social Democrats said they would work for. The CDU promised it would create “a strong economy for safe jobs” and put children and education in the center of their attention. More modern day windmills, solar panels on roofs, and support for families: This was what the Greens said they would work for.

The extremist far-right AfD improved its last result substantially, in spite of a big argument in its caucus in the state parliament in Hanover.

The Reactions

For the CDU, its Secretary General Mario Czaja told ZDF TV his party had not managed to reach its goals in Lower Saxony. He thanked the CDU’s voters and congratulated the competitors of the SPD. Omid Nouripour, one of the two Green co-chairpersons stated this was the best result his party had ever reached in the state. He said a “red-green” coalition was the logical consequence of this result.

Kevin Kühnert, the SPD’s Secretary General, said he believed it was too early to take decisions, only minutes after the polling stations closed. At the same time, he said a coalition with the Greens was a plan that deserved to be pursued.

For the AfD, Tino Chrupalla said in TV interviews his party had talked about “the economy war” Commerce Minister Habeck was waging. He stated government politicians had brought Germany to the brink of a third world war, and they were destroying Germany’s economy.

At 6:34 p.m., the winner of the night, Stephan Weil spoke to his party colleagues. He thanked everyone who had helped the SPD during the campaign, even though it had been difficult. “We fought, and we won today, dear friends.” The voters had given the Social Democrats a governmental mandate, Weil stated.

Eight minutes later, Bern Althusmann commented on the state elections, the second one he lost against Weil since 2017. The CDU had not reached its goal, he said. Althusmann wished the First Minister success. The FDP’s chairman Christian Lindner conceded his party had suffered a political setback and predicted Lower Saxony would turn left.

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