Exploding energy prices and anxious eyes towards Ukraine shaped the state election campaign in Lower Saxony. The rather bumpy crisis policy of the Berlin traffic light has weakened the SPD, but not too much.
Lower Saxony’s SPD leader Stephan Weil is counting on a red-green coalition after his victory in the state elections. “I assume that after yesterday’s result in Lower Saxony we will have a red-green state government,” said Weil on Monday in Berlin. “I don’t expect these to be easy talks. But I can’t think of any coalition negotiations that have ever been easy either. In any case, the goals are largely identical and the will to work together is very strong in this respect. “
On Monday afternoon he would propose to the committees of the SPD state association that exploratory talks be held, Weil said, “above all, of course, with Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, depending on the current situation”.
The CDU drove the worst election result in decades. State chief Bernd Althusmann admitted the defeat and announced on Sunday evening that he would resign from office. The FDP flew out of the state parliament after almost ten years – which could now cause trouble in the Berlin traffic light coalition. According to the preliminary result published on the Internet, the AfD also increased sharply and achieved a double-digit result. The left failed again at the five percent hurdle.
National political issues in the supporting role
The election campaign was marked by the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The focus was on the energy crisis and the concerns of many citizens about the high prices for gas, electricity and food. National political issues played a secondary role. Before the election, the SPD and CDU had made it clear that they did not want to continue the coalition they formed rather reluctantly in 2017.
After counting all constituencies and the provisional result published on the Internet, the SPD received 33.4 percent of the votes (2017: 36.9). At 28.1 percent, the CDU posted its worst state result in more than 60 years (2017: 33.6). The Greens, on the other hand, are making significant gains and are achieving a record result of 14.5 percent (2017: 8.7). The AfD is also gaining ground, reaching 10.9 percent (2017: 6.2). The FDP failed with 4.7 percent at the five percent hurdle (2017: 7.5), the left again with 2.7 percent (2017: 4.6).
According to the mandate calculations by ARD (11 p.m.) and ZDF (11:45 p.m.), the SPD with 57 seats and the Greens with 24 seats together have an absolute majority in the state parliament. The CDU has 47 seats, followed by the AfD with 18 mandates.
Because before third term
The 63-year-old Weil, who has been prime minister for almost ten years, is now aiming for his third term. “The voters gave the SPD the government mandate – and no one else,” he said.
The Greens now want to take over government responsibility again, as top candidate Julia Willie Hamburg said. “We will do everything we can to reshape Lower Saxony for the next five years as a Green and set it up for the future.”
CDU top candidate Althusmann said the CDU had lost. “We humbly accept this vote.” The SPD has a clear government mandate.
Because could even replace Ernst Albrecht as the head of government with the longest term in Lower Saxony. During the election campaign, he presented himself to unsettled voters as an experienced crisis manager with a close connection to Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Lindner: FDP supporters “strange with coalition”
FDP leader Christian Lindner also attributed his party’s disappointing election result to the federal coalition with the SPD and the Greens. “Because many of our supporters are strangers to this coalition,” said Lindner. “We are in the traffic light coalition because of state political responsibility, not because the SPD and the Greens are so close to us in terms of the content of their convictions.”
In the Berlin coalition, the FDP defeat could further increase the riot factor, especially between the Liberals and the Greens – especially with a view to a possible escalation of the energy crisis in winter, possible further relief measures, the dispute over nuclear power and the debt brake. Party Deputy Wolfgang Kubicki demanded that the FDP now “mark more clearly” their positions in the traffic lights.
In the state elections this year in North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein, the FDP also suffered significant losses – but it was still enough to get into the state parliament. In the Saarland elections in the spring, the party received a little more approval, but narrowly missed entering the state parliament.
Chrupalla sees AfD as a “people’s party”
AfD federal leader Tino Chrupalla was pleased with the strengthened parliamentary group. “Anything over ten percent in the West is a people’s party. That’s us,” he said. “We are back.” The AfD won for the first time after three state elections with losses. That should be grist to the mills of the protest movement that the right-wing party wants to set up this fall.
Almost 6.1 million eligible voters were able to cast their votes. According to the provisional result, voter turnout was 60.3 percent. In 2017 it was still 63.1 percent, after 59.4 percent in 2013.