The right-wing Christian Democratic Union's (CDU) vote nearly halved, down from 42.6% to only 21.9%. The "centre-left" Social Democrats (SPD) won 48.3% - a massive swing in their favour and enough for them to govern in their own right.
The result - after 10 years of rule - was the worst for the CDU in Hamburg since World War II.
The Green Party, which had been in coalition government with the CDU in Hamburg, won only a modest increase to 11.2%. The result was doubly disappointing for them as they had been hoping to skip from one coalition government to another, without so much as blinking.
The SPD's high vote has banished them to opposition.
The pro-market Free Democrats won 6.6%, increasing their vote enough to re-enter parliament after several years absence.
Far-left party, Die Linke, kept its eight deputies, winning 6.4% of the vote. While this is a credible result for Die Linke, it also reflects the fact that they have spent much of the past year debating their political platform and trajectory, to the detriment of waging public politics.
In what is being called a “super-election-year” with polls in several key states before a Federal Election in 2012, the results bode ill for Merkel’s conservative government.