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BADEN-WURTTEMBERG ELECTION March 29, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in European Politics.
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The elections in Baden Wurttemberg, where the Greens triumphed,held over the weekend may prove more significant that those in New South Wales, where they are said to have failed.

The overriding issue in Baden-Wurttemberg, was very much influenced by the disaster in Fukushima and the question of nuclear power. In NSW the introduction of a Federal Carbon Tax may have been mentioned, but coal-fired power stations were not an issue.

Helen Pidd for The Guardian reports:

The Green party has taken power from Angela Merkel’s conservatives in one of Germany’s richest states, preliminary results from the Baden-Württemberg elections show.

The chancellor’s Christian Democratic Union party, or CDU, had ruled the region’s state legislature for almost 58 years, but found itself on the wrong side of the nuclear debate following Fukushima. Even before the Japanese earthquake, the party was unpopular locally for sanctioning a multibillion euro project to build a railway station in Stuttgart.

Support for the CDU slumped from 44.2% in the 2006 state election to 39%, according to official results.

The state parliament’s new leader would be Winfried Kretschmann, 62, a spiky-haired former science teacher. He is likely to become the Green party’s first regional “minister president” after his party gained 25% of the vote; enough, when combined with the 23.1% for the centre-left Social Democratic party, to form a coalition. Minister presidents are powerful on a national as well as a regional level, because they have a vote in Germany’s upper house, the Bundesrat, and can veto legislation.

It would mark a historic win for the minority party, which polled 11.7% in Baden-Württemberg in 2006. Even when the Greens were in government in a coalition with Gerhard Schröder’s Social Democrats between 1998 and 2005, and had Joschka Fischer as foreign minister, the party never managed to win a regional “Landtag” election.

“We have written history,” said Claudia Roth, joint leader of the Green party, speaking in Berlin after polls closed. Dressed head-to-toe in green, including glittery emerald ballet pumps, she said the result would have repercussions far beyond the borders of Baden-Württemberg. It was, she said, “a resounding slap in the face” for Merkel’s coalition.

Commentators have suggested that a dramatic CDU defeat makes Merkel’s position untenable. It would be “the beginning of the end” for her, wrote one on Spiegel Online on Friday. Others suggest the leader known as Iron Angie will plough on until the general election in 2013.

Also voting on Sunday was Rhineland-Palatinate state, where an ARD exit poll saw the Social Democrats retain power but only by agreeing to a coalition government with the Greens. The SPD fell 10 percentage points to 35.5%, while the Greens appeared to have more than trebled their vote, with 17%, according to the exit poll, and will send representatives to that regional parliament for the first time. The Christian Democrats are seen gaining 1.2% to 34%.

In Rhineland-Palatinate the vote for the SDU fell to 35.7 per cent, but they will be able to retain government with the support of the Greens who attracted 15.4 per cent of the vote.

The fact is that electors vote the system they have or they do not vote at all. Like NSW these were state elections, and perhaps it is not surprising that the CDU was not credited with Angela Merkel’s Government decision to abstain from the Libyan bombing campaign, since that was a policy position shared by the SDU and Greens.

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