Monday, 21 January 2013

It's a SPD/Green win in Lower Saxony

It's as close as you can get: with a single seat advantage, SPD/Green has emerged as the single largest coalition grouping in Lower Saxony. Stephan Weil (SPD) has confirmed that he will try to form a government with the Greens - and replace David McAllister as Prime Minister.

What does this mean nationally?
It's been an uncomfortable night for most of the main parties - especially with federal elections coming in September. The SPD will note that their victory - despite an early lead - was less than convincing. Peer Steinbr├╝ck (SPD candidate for Chancellor) and his repeated missteps have hardly helped.

The CDU will be particularly frustrated. They had strong support in the polls and a popular leader in David McAllister, relative to the SPD candidate. The collapse in their favoured coalition party's support meant this was not enough to translate into victory. A problem that Angela Merkel faces on a national level.

The FDP had a bittersweet night. With nearly 10% of the vote, it was a record for the party in Lower Saxony. However, polling shows that 80% of their voters this time around identified as CDU supporters. They'd voted FDP for fear that the CDU's favoured partner would crash out of parliament - and without this help, that's precisely what would have happened.

Only the Greens can be counted as a straightforward winner. They've improved substantially on their 2008 performance - if this is repeated on a national level, they'll be a serious coalition partner for either of the SPD or CDU.

Merkel and McAllister
This election result is a threat to Merkel's position within the CDU, albeit marginally. McAllister is now free to take his popularity to the national level and - while there is no suggestion that a challenge is coming - as and when things start going downhill for Frau Merkel, David McAllister will be one of several waiting in the wings.

A German Chancellor with a Scottish father - what would the UK papers would make of that...

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