Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s central-left alliance faced a significant setback in the pivotal states of Bavaria and Hesse this Sunday. The elections mirrored the public’s growing concerns about the economy and migration, favoring the opposition conservatives and the far right.
In a significant development, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party expanded its influence beyond its traditional eastern bases, marking its most remarkable performance in a western state in Hesse and securing second position in both states.
Scholz’s federal coalition, consisting of the Social Democrats, the Greens, and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), faced dwindling support in both states, representing about a quarter of the German populace.
The FDP’s performance was particularly worrying, as it appeared unlikely to meet Bavaria and Hesse’s 5 percent parliamentary entry criteria. This underwhelming performance is anticipated to amplify coalition tensions. Criticisms towards Scholz’s leadership capabilities have intensified, especially amid challenges like the Ukraine conflict and the green transition.
Thomas Kemmerich, an FDP leader from Thueringen, mentioned to The Pioneer, a German media platform, that the FDP must reconsider its coalition involvement, emphasizing that the option of departure shouldn’t be off the table.
Jens Spahn of the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) commented on the government’s evident rejection by the public. Spahn highlighted the public’s desire for change in migration, economy, and climate policies.
In Hesse, projections showcased the CDU as the dominant party, likely retaining its governance. However, the SPD’s decreased vote share was a setback for Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, who was scrutinized for managing rising irregular immigration. The left-leaning Left party also struggled, failing to meet the required 5% vote share to sustain its presence in the Hesse state legislature, suggesting a broader tilt to the right.
The CDU’s allied party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), despite being Bavaria’s ruling party since 1957, had a dip in its performance, which might hinder CSU leader Markus Soeder’s aspirations for the 2025 federal elections. The CSU aims to maintain its alliance with the Free Voters, one of the few parties that recorded growth in the Bavarian polls.
AfD’s surging popularity, with its gains in both states, underlines the rising influence of this decade-old party. The AfD’s strong national presence and controversial stance might challenge Germany to build stable political majorities.
SPD’s Sebastian Roloff emphasized the need for better communication of the SPD’s initiatives and a more significant public presence in a conversation with the Handelsblatt.