Elections in Bavaria: Huh.

Bavaria also had elections this weekend. (I posted about the campaign last week.)

Surprise: the Christian Social Union, which has ruled Bavaria without a break since forever, lost big. For the first time since 1962, they won’t have enough seats in Parliament to rule alone; they’ll have to take on a partner, most likely the FDP.

The big winners were the small parties — the FDP, Free Voters, Left/Linke, and Greens. Die Linke dididn’t quite reach the 5% threshold for getting seats, but they put on an impressive show anyway, jumping from nothing to 4.3%… not bad for a bunch of ex-commies plus Oskar Lafontaine, running in a rich, conservative Catholic state.

So what does it mean?
Well, the early reports are spinning it as bad for Chancellor Merkel and the CDU, because the CDU will need the CSU next year in the general election. If the CSU does this badly in 2009, the CDU has no hope of winning a majority. (Not that they have much hope anyway, but still.)

But it’s not good news for the Socialists either: they lost vote share too. And they were at an all-time low in Bavaria to begin with. So, really, who the hell knows. This election may have made another “grand coalition” more likely, but it’s still really early to say.

(Although here’s an amusing bit of trivia: the CDU has said that it doesn’t want another grand coalition, but hasn’t formally ruled it out. The CSU, on the other hand, went on record a while back as saying that it absolutely wouldn’t accept one. Someone should ask if they’re reconsidering that…)

Also of interest: the Freie Wähler hitting an all-time high with 10.2% of the vote. The FW are, at a state level, the “none of the above” party. They have no party structure, and they barely have policies or a platform. They bill themselves as the “common sense” party, which in Bavaria means vaguely conservative, but really they’re who you vote for when you just can’t abide any of the others. They’re unlikely to enter the state government this time — it’ll probably be a CSU/FDP coalition — but they’ll be the second-largest piece of the opposition, and quite possibly the most important; unlike the Socialists, they have some credibility beyond their immediate base.

Watching with interest.

[Update: just spotted this very good diary over at Eurotrib. Check out the comments thread for interesting details.]

6 thoughts on “Elections in Bavaria: Huh.

  1. This was an amazing result, and its effects will change German politics, in the near future and beyond.

    At the moment, news sources report that CSU party leader Huber will resign and Federal Minister for Agriculture, Seehofer, will most probably become his successor.

  2. It should be noted that this means that the government’s majority in the upper house is effectively gone.

  3. I wonder about all those extrapolations to national politics. I would say that the Freie Wahler voters are very likely to vote CSU in the national elections, keeping the CDU/CSU still large?

  4. For now they will vote CSU in national elections. But the CSU thinks long term. Therefore they are worried. Once people know that votes for the Freie Wähler are not wasted, the movement will establish itself.

    The interesting point is that in Bavaria, even the opposition is conservative. This means very hard times for the SPD. The CDU/CSU is not scared of the SPD right now. The SPD will not govern except as part of the current coalition for the next 5 years, probably 9 years. But they may be forced into a permanent grand coalition and repeat the Austrian experience.

  5. Pingback: Voices without Votes » Blogs 2 : 30th September

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