Europe, Globe

Hamburg: A difficult start for Angela Merkel

The outcome of the regional elections in her country could not have been worse for the German Chancellor: her party only obtained 21.9% of the votes, one of the poorest results in this port town.

Harald Neuber

On Sunday, at the end of the electoral period, the leaders of the Christian-Democratic Union (CDU) had plenty of reasons to be concerned, since the voting in Hamburg marked the beginning of a series of seven regional elections throughout the year.

Today, as they examine the results, analysts and the press predict that this will not represent the final defeat of the Christian Democrats, who are worried about the regional elections in Sajonia-Anhalt on the 20th March and in Baden-Wurtembreg and Renania-Palatinado on the 27th. Meanwhile, the Social Democrats of the SPD are celebrating their victory with a 48.3% absolute majority.

However, the media have drawn attention to the regional nature of the voting in Hamburg, which is strongly influenced by factors such as the resignation of the former Christian Democrat mayor Ole von Beust last summer. In line with electoral analyses, it remains doubtful as to whether the SPD can, as the leading opposition movement, repeat a victory such as the one in Hamburg.

The Liberal Party returned to the regional Parliament with a result of 6.6%. In the previous elections in 2008, they had achieved 4.8%. Due to the 5 Percent Clause, in place to avoid the presence of minority factions in the assemblies, they did not gain a parliamentary presence.

According to the initial interpretations by experts, thousands of CDU supporters voted for the Liberals. At the same time, the Green Party also performed poorly, receiving much less support than expected with 11.2%. In the latest polls, the environmentalist party received over 20% of the votes.

However, the result of Sunday’s election shows that the high-flying status of the Greens has nothing to do with the real balance of power. The former president of this party, Judith Ditfurth, attributed the difference between the polls and the result to the Greens’ turn towards a right-wing philosophy.

“The Green Party is a good example of the return of conservatism in Germany”, declares Ditfurth in the newspaper Der Spiegel (The Mirror). She points out that the Greens try to present themselves as a progressive party, only to then produce completely contradictory policies: she mentions as examples the abandonment of their opposition of nuclear energy, socialist politics and participation in imperialist wars.

“The Greens are political champions who have betrayed us”, says Ditfurth, who has recently published a book on the topic. The arrival of the new party Die Linke (The Left), confirmed fifth place for the socialists in the German political landscape with 6.4% of the vote, behind the Social Democrats, Conservatives, Greens and Liberals, despite intense anti-Communist activity in the press over the last few weeks.

“For us, the result represents a positive start to this electoral year”, commented the Federal President of Die Linke, Gesine Loetzsch, emphasising the role of this group as a strong opponent.

(Translated by Sophie Roper – Email:

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