Berlin is likely to get the first leftwing triple-coalition government in its history, after Angela Merkel’s CDU party and the ruling Social Democrats both plummeted to their lowest result in the Germany capital. Centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) came out top with 21.6% of the vote, ahead of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) on 17.5%. Leftwing Die Linke came third on 15.7%, ahead of the Greens on 15.1%. Anti-immigration populists Alternative für Deutschland are set to enter the German capital’s state parliament for the first time, with 14.1%. Days before the election, mayor Michael Müller had warned that a double-digit score for the AfD “would be seen around the world as a sign of the return of the rightwing and the Nazis in Germany”.
“Berlin is not any old city”, the Social Democrat (SPD) politician wrote on Facebook on Thursday. “Berlin is the city that transformed itself from the capital of Hitler’s Nazi Germany into a beacon of freedom, tolerance, diversity and social cohesion.”
Before an election in which about 2.48m people were eligible to vote, Müller had indicated that he would prefer not to continue governing the city in a “grand coalition” between centre left and centre right, seeking a coalition with the Green party instead. To gain a governing majority, the two parties will require the support of a third party, such as the Left party or the liberal Free Democrats, who managed to get back into parliament with 6.7%.
Berlin, once hailed as “poor but sexy” by its former mayor Klaus Wowereit, has seen unemployment rates drop below 10% and tax earnings rise in recent years. But a population growth of 40,000 residents a year has led to a build-up in state bureaucracy and given rise to fears of urban gentrification.