State elections in Hesse: black-green coalition maintains slim majority

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According to the preliminary results, the black-green coalition in Hesse still has a majority in the new state parliament – but only one seat ahead. CDU and SPD lose heavily. The Greens become the second strongest party in the state.

In the state elections on Sunday (28.10.18) in Hesse, the CDU and SPD suffered double-digit losses. The Greens and the AfD made enormous gains.

According to the preliminary official result announced by the state election commissioner on Monday morning around 1:45 a.m., the black-green state government was able to defend its majority with a majority of one seat.

For a Jamaica coalition of CDU, Greens and FDP, there would be a strong majority. But other coalitions are also possible. The preliminary final result in detail:

CDU: 27.0%
SPD: 19.8%
Greens: 19.8%
Left: 6.3%
FDP: 7.5% 
AfD: 13.1 %
Others: 6,5 %

Green party second strongest with 94 votes ahead

The Hesse CDU of Prime Minister Volker Bouffier achieved its worst result since 1966. It loses 11.3 percentage points. The SPD of top candidate Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel plunged to an all-time low with a minus of 10.9 percentage points.

The big winners are the Greens (+8.7%): they are the second strongest party with a lead of just 94 votes over the SPD (Greens: 570,260 votes, SPD: 570,166). The AfD (+9.1%), which is entering the state parliament for the first time, also won significantly. The FDP (+2.5%) and the Left (+1.1) are also represented in the state parliament again.

In the 2013 state elections, the CDU was the strongest party in parliament with 38.3 percent, followed by the SPD (30.7 percent), Greens (11.1 percent), Left (5.2 percent) and FDP (5.0 percent).

137 seats in new state parliament

So far, the state parliament of Hesse has 110 seats. The new parliament will have 137 seats with compensatory mandates, making it the largest state parliament to date. The seats will be distributed as follows:

CDU: 40
SPD: 29
Green: 29
Left: 9
FDP: 11
AfD: 19

The CDU and Greens have 69 seats and thus a narrow majority. Together with the FDP, the CDU and the Greens could form a “Jamaica coalition” with a comfortable majority of 80 seats.

A grand coalition of CDU and SPD would also have a narrow majority of 69 seats. Even for a “traffic light” coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP it would be barely enough. The three parties together have 69 seats. For a coalition of SPD, Greens and Left, however, it is not enough. Together they have 67 seats – not enough for a majority.

On election night, it was repeatedly unclear in the projections whether the black-green coalition would retain a majority or not.

Bouffier sees Jamaica as an option

Prime Minister Bouffier spoke on Sunday evening of painful losses for his party. He said, however, that the CDU was “clearly the strongest party”. He intends to also lead the next state government in Hesse: “I intend to continue my office. On Monday, I will propose to my party to talk to the Greens, the SPD and the FDP.” His goal is “a stable government in Hesse”.

Bouffier said in the ARD-tagesthemen that a Jamaica alliance of CDU, Greens and FDP would be an option. An alliance with the SPD would not be a priority for him for the time being. “The Grand Coalition is a possibility that is at the very end when there is no other agreement”, Bouffier said.

SPD: “bitter defeat

SPD top candidate Schäfer-Gümbel spoke on Sunday evening of a “difficult and bitter evening”. He admitted that this was the worst result for the Hesse SPD since 1946 and also complained that the overall national trend was one of the reasons for the election result. This severe setback must have consequences in Berlin.

Hesse’s Economics Minister Tarek Al-Wazir (Greens) spoke of a “wonderful day” for his party, his party colleague and Environment Minister Priska Hinz cheered: “Hesse has never been so green.” Al-Wazir said that one could be proud to have gained so much trust among the Hessians as a ruling party over the past five years. “That is a task that we will continue to carry out in terms of energy system transformation and agricultural system transformation.

Al-Wazir had two reasons to be happy. When the constituency of Offenbach-Stadt was counted, it was clear that it would enter the state parliament by direct mandate. The Greens had never succeeded in this before in Hesse. Four further direct mandates were added in the course of the election evening.

Good results for FDP, The Left and AfD

The FDP is also delighted: “Four years ago we trembled. Today others are trembling,” said top candidate René Rock in view of his party’s narrow entry into parliament five years ago. He was open to a Jamaica government alliance with the CDU and Greens. “Yes, we would probe and see if we can do it,” he said on Sunday evening. In any case, he hopes “that we will be needed to form a government”.

Janine Wissler, the leading candidate on the left, also expressed her satisfaction. “The left will go strengthened into the new state parliament,” she said about the best performance of the left in Hesse’s state elections so far. The vote for social justice will be strengthened.

The AfD also entered the state parliament with strong numbers. Their top candidate, Reiner Rahn, called it a historic result. Now the AfD is represented in all 16 country parliaments. He announced that the opposition party wanted to “cooperate constructively with the others”.

Voter turnout was 67.3 percent. In 2013, when the Landtag and Bundestag were elected simultaneously in Hesse, the turnout was 73.2 percent.

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