Merkel’s party wins state election as Greens ‘hype’ wears off


People walk past election campaign posters of the German Christian Democrats (CDU), German Social Democrats (SPD) and German Greens on May 28, 2021 in Magdeburg, Germany.

Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Germany’s ruling Christian Democratic Union has made a sort of political comeback after a resounding victory in regional elections on Sunday, according to exit polls. The results should give Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party a boost ahead of the September federal elections.

The CDU appears to have retained the state of Saxony-Anhalt in eastern Anhalt, leading the regional vote and avoiding a challenge from the far-right Alternative for Germany party.

The victory is seen as a boost for CDU chief Armin Laschet in the last regional vote before the country decides who will replace Merkel on September 26.

Exit polls published by public broadcasters ARD and MDR saw the CDU with 37.1% of the vote ahead of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) which had 20.8% of the vote. Meanwhile, the Green Party, which earlier this year saw a nationwide rebound in voter polls, received just 5.9% of the vote, placing it in fifth place.

The fading of the green “hype”?

The result will be a blow to the Green Party which had been seen as a candidate to be part of – or even lead – a coalition government after the general election in September. But analysts now believe that the Greens’ rebound could now fade.

“Much of the green hype that we have seen over the past seven weeks since they chose Annalena Baerbock as their (chancellor) candidate has simply been exaggerated,” Holger Schmieding, economist, told CNBC on Monday. in chief at Berenberg.

“There’s a certain natural fascination with the new, but when it really comes down to thinking ‘who do we really want to run this country, who do we trust to run things sensibly,’ then voters stick to what they know, “he added.

Schmieding noted that with the rebound of the German economy and the good management of the pandemic, the Germans “have no reason to aspire to change”. Berenberg Bank argues that the most likely outcome of the federal election remains a coalition between the CDU and its sister Bavarian party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and the Greens, with a probability of this scenario at 60%.

While regional elections in Saxony-Anhalt (a small state of about 2.2 million people) showed little support for the Greens, analysts note that national polls still place the Greens in second place in the country. CDU / CSU alliance. Nonetheless, the party saw its poll score drop after a sharp rebound in April and May after the party elected Annalena Baerbock as federal candidate. Yet the Politico poll places the CDU / CSU with 25% of the vote in September and the Greens with 23%.

Winds of change

Given Saxony-Anhalt’s small size and its traditional disaffection with the Green Party, another analyst noted that any extrapolation of regional results to the national level “must be done with caution.”

Carsten Brzeski, global head of Macro at ING, added Monday in a note that the vote serves to “illustrate that, even if there were, the winds of change in German politics are currently very mild.”

“The CDU has recovered from the decline after the appointment of Armin Laschet to lead the party in the elections. Whether it’s the acceleration of the vaccination rollout or the strong popularity of Saxony-Anhalt CDU Minister-President Reiner Haseloff, the point is that the CDU has grown in recent years. weeks, ”he wrote.

Meanwhile, Brzeski noted that “the rise of the Greens has come to a halt (temporarily)” after a series of missteps and misfortunes for the Greens.

“After the polls soaring after the appointment of Annalena Baerbock as official candidate for the chancellery, spending slippages, some vagueness in Baerbock’s CV and a case involving the mayor of the city of Tübingen have run into the support of the electorate to the Greens, “he said.

In short, the fact that in the third state election this year, the outgoing third minister-president won the election suggests that there is very little wind of change in German politics. the CDU and a certain weakening of the Greens could lend credence to this theory.

While analysts note that there is still a long way to go before the September elections, the latest results show that, as Brzeski noted, “the mood in German politics can change more easily and faster than in the past”.


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