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MAY 2021

Election in Berlin: The End of CDU and SPD as the People’s Parties

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Election in Berlin: The End of CDU and SPD as the People’s Parties

Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Originally appeared at DWN, translated by Karin exclusively for SouthFront

The Berlin elections have brought historical losses to the CDU and SPD. The Greens didn’t leave unscathed in their traditional stronghold. The Left Party has shown that there is room left of the SPD to accommodate a trenchant policy. The AfD showed the CDU that this also applies to the Right. The Renaissance of the FDP is a chance for them to give liberalism a voice.

European Commissioner Günther Oettinger (CDU) has called the poor showing of his party in the election to the House of Representatives in Berlin as “totally unsatisfactory”. “With this, the character of a people’s party is hardly given in Berlin,” he said to the Stuttgarter Zeitung.

Oettinger’s analysis relates also to the SPD. The previous partner SPD and CDU fared historically poor and are unable to continue their coalition in the House of Representatives. The former people’s parties had their worst postwar result and lost together over twelve percent. While the election winner the SPD can indeed reign on, but have to look for two partners. Two alliances alone don’t have a majority any more.

The winner of the election in Berlin was the Left Party, the AfD and the FDP. It is noteworthy that the AfD has made it immediately into every borough assembly and will provide seven councilors. Five AfD politicians were also able to prevail as direct candidates. Especially in the eastern part of the city, the AfD reached partly over 20 percent and took some of the Left’s votes as well. In the west of the city, the AfD was significantly less popular. Interesting: Even in some of the western constituencies the Left Party did well and took votes away from the SPD.

The Left Party came in the projections into third place and overtook the Green Party. The Left was the only one of the parties represented in parliament that gained votes, around four percentage points. The Greens remained below their record level of 2011. Both parties are ready for an alliance with the SPD.

The AfD continued its surge to hit a double-digit result. Most recently they stood at 14.1 percent. The AfD politicians are now sitting in 10 of 16 state parliaments. The FDP returns, after the out in 2011, back to Parliament and had 6.7 percent, a vital sign of life.

For the CDU of Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose refugee policy is highly controversial in the Union itself, Sunday marked the continuation of a negative series: At all state elections this year, the party has lost votes. However, the SPD, which governed in alliance with the CDU / CSU, slumped in Berlin with almost seven percentage points even more strongly than the CDU. Never before in Germany had a winner of state elections such a poor result.

The preliminary official results of the mandates:

SPD 352 369 21.6 (28.3) (- 6.7) 38
CDU 288 002 17.6 (23.3) (- 5.7) 31
Green 248 243 15.2 (17.6) (- 2.4) 27
Left 255 740 15.6 (11.7) (+ 3.9) 27
AfD 231 325 14.2 (-) (-) 25
FDP 109 431 6.7 (1.8) (+ 4.9) 12
Pirates 28 321 1.7 (8.9) (- 7.2) –

SPD top candidate Michael Müller, whose party holds since 15 years the position of the Mayor in the Red City Hall, announced exploratory talks with all parties except the AfD. He added: “I see more points of intersection with the Greens and the Left party “. SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel said:” Berlin will stay social and human decent.”

CDU top candidate and present Interior Minister Frank Henkel declined to resign. His party will be available for exploratory talks to form a government.

Green Party leader Cem Özdemir sees a government contract for his party. “People want a serious government, we can do that.” The Green Party could come for the first time again into the government in Berlin since 2002. They do oppose a coalition with the CDU.

Left Party chairman Katja Kipping considers the result off their party as a great signal. “This is encouraging for the left majorities.” The party had ruled in Berlin already in 2002-2011 as a junior partner together with the SPD. For FDP General Secretary Nicola Beer the participation of liberals in government is not a priority.

AfD Vice Beatrix von Storch said her party was on a direct way into the Bundestag.

Until the parliamentary election in September 2017, there are the elections in Saarland (March 26th), in Schleswig-Holstein (May 7th) and in North Rhine-Westphalia (May 14th), three more political mood tests.

For all elections – and probably also for the federal elections – the time of the major parties is over. CDU and SPD will have to work hard to be heard past their party circles. So far, both parties have isolated themself and counted on being able to govern with smaller majorities. In the long run this is the wrong strategy: The Berlin result reflect a more diverse society. Traditional behavior only plays a subordinate role anymore. The success of the Left and FDP shows, that there is no shift to the right to be seen. Rather voters want parties representing their interests more pointedly.

For governments the work will not be easier by the new constellations. However, the new variety also offers the chance for creative alliances – assuming one accepts that dissenters are not seen as enemies of democracy, but as its integrated part.

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