Monday, September 7, 2009

German Left Party makes election gains

Before the recent elections in the German states of Thuringia, Saarland and Saxony it seemed likely that Christian Democrat (CDU) German Chancellor Angela Merkel would return to power comfortably this year, probably in coalition with the free-market fundamentalists of the Free Democratic Party (FDP).

On August 30, however, German voters went to the polls in the three states and for local elections in North Rhine Westphalia. The result — an unmistakable swing to the left — has blown prospects for the September 27 German federal elections wide open. Both big parties — the centre-right CDU and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) — received heavy blows.

In national opinion polls, the SPD (a junior partner in a federal "grand coalition" government with the CDU) has slumped to a historic low of 22%. On August 30, its vote continued to decline. The SPD polled only 10.4% in Saxony, and 18.5% in Thuringia.

However, the biggest loser was the ruling CDU. Its vote dropped by more than 13 points in both Thuringia and Saarland — the worst results since 1949. It will probably lose government in both states.