The Länder election that took place in Bavaria, Germany´s second biggest state, last Sunday added flavour to what was previously a dull election campaign on federal level. According to Allensbach Institute, the share of people talking with others about the election rose from 29% to 49% recently. While the Christian Social Union (CSU) – sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) – came out on top, chancellor Angela Merkel´s coalition partners the Free Democratic Party (FDP), who had also been part of the governing coalition in Bavaria, received only 3.3% of the votes, thus clearly failing to get over the 5% threshold that dictates whether a party can enter parliament. The liberals now fear they could miss entering the federal parliament next Sunday too. This would make Merkel´s “dream coalition” history. The liberals immediately started to aggressively beg for conservative voters to step in and help them. If successful, this strategy would take voters from the CDU/CSU. Indeed, at the Länder election in Lower-Saxony in January, “pity votes” for the FDP prevented a victory for the CDU. Only 8.6% of Bavarians voted for the Greens on Sunday, which is in line with the negative trend in the polls on the federal level that is lowering the prospects for a Red-Green coalition government. Even the “Free Voters of Bavaria” superseded the Greens – a local organised party with a strong base in Bavaria which plays no role on federal level. It will be interesting to see where the votes for the Free Voters move to next Sunday.
Which brings us to the eurosceptic “Alternative für Deutschland”: the AfD gets between 3 and 4% in most polls, but pollsters say many of its potential voters hide their real intentions. If the AfD really enters the parliament, the continuation of the Black-Yellow coalition is hardly possible. Will Merkel really withstand the temptation to form a coalition with FDP and AfD? In any case, the AfD will give the eurosceptics inside CDU/CSU additional arguments to stay on track with the rescue measures, which may be a big disappointment for those across Europe who hope for the loosening of austerity. Even if the AfD fails to enter the Bundestag, the party will be established after this election. It will most likely enter the European parliament next year and continue to influence the European policy of Germany.
In short: it´s complicated. Things are increasingly volatile and unforeseeable in the German six-to-seven-party system. Even only a couple of days before the election, about a third of voters are still undecided.
The social democrats have gained slight momentum in the last few weeks after Steinbrück did well in the TV-debate with Merkel. In Bavaria, the SPD gained 2-percentage-points – no tailwind, but better than expected. On federal level, polling average moved up to 26%. For the SPD it will be important to push up voter turnout, since a lot of former social democratic voters stayed at home during the elections four years ago. This is why the SPD is setting so much hope on its door-to-door-campaign, Obama-style, which is unprecedented in Germany´s campaign history. The official goal set out by the party headquarter is to knock on 5 million doors until September 22nd
Full Article: Policy Network – Opinion.