Elections in Saxony and Brandenburg have changed the balance of power in these states. The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) has recorded significant gains, while the more traditional parties (CDU and SPD) continue losing ground. EURACTIV Germany brings an overview of reactions by party leaders after the elections.
At a press conference on Monday (2 September), AfD party leader and MEP Jörg Meuthen described his party as being the “radiant election winner.”
Since the AfD received a substantial increase in votes, the party has been showing growing confidence. Its electoral support rose 17.7 percentage points in Saxony and 11.3 percentage points in Brandenburg.
Meuthen concluded that this indicates that the AfD has long since ceased to be a protest party and has convinced voters that it offers them a “credible and authentic” solution. According to the consensus among party representatives, the AfD is a party for the citizens, just like Italy’s Lega, for example.
This was promptly answered from CSU board member and former MEP Bernd Posselt.
“AfD leaders are either laboriously camouflaged right-wing radicals or forever outdated nationalists,” Posselt said, highlighting that the AfD is neither conservative nor mainstream (bürgerlich).
Although all other parties have ruled out forming a coalition with the AfD, this has in no way clouded the optimism of AfD’s national associations. That is because government coalitions that will have to be formed now, are “more fragile than ever before.”
AfD chairman Jörg Urban described the necessary tripartite alliance between the CDU, SPD and the Greens in Saxony as being “unsustainable”.
The Greens are becoming kingmakers
Forming a governing coalition is likely to be complicated.
For Green leader Robert Habeck, the “most difficult negotiations” for a black-red-green (CDU, SPD and Greens) coalition will be in the state of Saxony. That is because the conservative CDU and the Greens are “actually opposed on all issues.”
And the CDU itself, which will have to rely on the Greens, is not very enthusiastic about this ‘marriage of convenience’.
However, this will have to happen because the CDU has firmly ruled out cooperation with the AfD or the Left.
At a press conference on Monday (2 September), Michael Kretschmer, Saxony’s minister-president, showed a willingness to negotiate. Although he recently described himself as the most prominent opponent to a coalition with the Greens, he announced that he was open for talks.
“There is a time before and a time after the election. Now we have to deal with the election results. I’m ready for that,” Kretschmer said.
Issues are now critical, according to CDU’s top candidate Ingo Senftleben. For him, his party in Brandenburg could move away from the opposition and form a government with the SPD and the Greens.
“There is no other option,” Senftleben said.
CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said the goal for the party is now to build bridges while, at the same time, maintaining its clear distance from the AfD. Her party, however, had not overcome some hurdles, such as climate protection, as she had planned.
“It is a difficult result that I take very seriously,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said.
The CDU is now all the more determined in continuing its internal renewal process. In both federal states, the CDU slipped more than seven percentage points. In Saxony, they are now only five percentage points ahead of the AfD.
SPD’s “grandiose catch-up race” in Brandenburg
The SPD has also lost more than five percentage points in both states. However, the polls in previous weeks showed that the Social democrats, with Dietmar Woidke as minister-president in Brandenburg, were able to catch up significantly in recent weeks.
On Monday (2 September), Woidke told ZDF that this had been a “grandiose catch-up race.”
Because of the tough election campaign, the fact that his party is still the strongest in Brandenburg is a “very, very good result”. He wants to start negotiations this week, even if it may not turn out to be a “marriage made in heaven”.
The SPD, together with the Left, have so far formed the government in Brandenburg. However, the Left has lost many seats, almost 8%.
Dietmar Bartsch, faction leader of the Left in the Bundestag, spoke of an “unprecedented disaster” on Monday, while his colleague Stefan Liebich even called it a “slap in the face”.
To reach the necessary majority of 45 seats, the Social Democrats (SPD) in Brandenburg will, therefore, have to expand their coalition and include the Left, the Greens or even the so-called small liberal party of Free Voters.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]