By Stefan Steinberg in Germany:
Historic defeat for Social Democrats in German federal election
28 September 2009
The German federal election held Sunday produced a historic defeat for the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and a sharp drop in support for all of the parties involved in Germany’s outgoing coalition government.
The SPD polled just 23.0 percent, down more than 11 percent from the last federal election in 2005, when the party polled 34.2 percent. The result is the worst ever for the SPD since World War II. Its decline of over 11 percent is the biggest loss ever recorded by a German party in a federal election since 1949.
The SPD’s main partners in Germany’s grand coalition government, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Bavarian-based Christian Social Union (CSU), were also punished by voters. The so-called “union” parties emerged with the largest share of the vote—a combined total of 33.8 percent—but recorded their second worst result in postwar history.
The tally for the union parties was 1.4 percentage points less than their result of 35.2 percent in 2005, and far removed from the 40 percent-plus vote recorded in the majority of elections held in the postwar period. Many CDU-CSU voters evidently switched to the pro-“free market” Free Democratic Party (FDP), which polled 14.8 percent, a gain of 5 percentage points compared to 2005.
The Christian Social Union (CSU) also registered its worst ever result in a federal election since World War II. The party which has long dominated politics in Germany’s biggest state gained just 41.0 percent in Bavaria—less than the disastrous 43.4 percent recorded by the party in the last Bavarian state election.
Even under conditions where voters turned away in droves from the conservative CSU, the SPD was unable to benefit. Instead, the SPD also recorded its worst ever result in Bavaria, receiving just 16.5 percent of the vote.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of the CDU announced Sunday evening that she would form a coalition government with the pro-business Free Democrats. It is estimated that this coalition will control some 323 seats in the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, giving it a majority of approximately 15 seats.
Under conditions where the electorate turned away from all of the parties involved in the CDU-CSU-SPD grand coalition, opposition parties were able to increase their share of the vote.
The Green Party won 10.6 percent, up 2.5 percentage points from 2005, while the Left Party won 12.5 percent, 3.8 percentage points higher than its result in 2005.
A comment on the SPD defeat, by Fredrik Jansson from Sweden:
European Social Democracy needs to get over the cul-de-sac that the third way and the new middle were. We must understand that we can’t win elections through triangulation and great coalitions. SPD lost this election when they discarded the red-green majority that the German people elected in the last election.
See also here.
A top German court ruled on Wednesday that spooks have the right to “monitor” members of the increasingly popular Left Party, Die Linke, which won representation in the Bundestag in 2005.