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"the Hesse state elections mark a decisive shift in German politics" - Expert Comment

Commenting on the poor results for Chancellor Merkel's CDU party and her coalition partners the SPD in this weekend's Hesse poll, Professor Palmowski said:

"Far more than a regional election, the Hesse state elections mark a decisive shift in German politics: they herald the beginning of the end of the Great Coalition: it is difficult to see how it can recover from its low popularity.

"There are three key consequences:

  • Merkel may hang on as Chancellor – even if there were snap elections (something very difficult to do under the German constitution) Merkel could probably lead a CDU-Green Coalition. Whilst there is significant disquiet in her own party, her demise would lead to an open battle for the soul of the party, with no evident outcome (or successor) for the party’s political future direction.
  • The SPD is in free fall. It has lost its working class base, and it is in a critical condition as a ‘catch-all’ people’s party that can appeal across class and region. Ironically, it is then SPD that is most likely to end the Great Coalition, even though the elections could very well signal the beginning of the end of the SPD as Germany’s second large party.
  • The Greens may well have established themselves as the successor of the SPD as Germany’s other party (alongside the CDU) whose appeal transcends class and region, whose appeal is cultural, urban, but increasingly also rural."

Jan Palmowski is Professor of Modern History at the University of Warwick.

29 October 2018

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Sheila Kiggins

Media Relations Manager

S.Kiggins@warwick.ac.uk

02476 150423

07876 218166