EA popular excuse is not available after this state election: it is purely a state election. It was an election at the state level, but rarely was an election as politically charged as this one. It was about the consequences of the Ukraine war, about the energy crisis, about gas surcharges or the gas price brake, about nuclear power or coal, about Scholz, Habeck and Lindner, and the general question was: Can this federal government handle a crisis?
She can and will read the election results. After all, it quickly became clear on the evening of the election that a red-green majority would be enough. If there weren’t signs that speak against this interpretation, against the strength of the traffic light coalition. Stephan Weil, Prime Minister and election winner, would certainly have liked to have achieved a better result. His 33 percent is the weakest result of the election winners in Saarland, North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein. So Weil didn’t win this election with a Scholz bonus, but with a Scholz penalty.
Above all, however, the performance of the FDP, which will no longer be represented in the Lower Saxony state parliament, is a sign that something is going wrong in the traffic light. Many supporters of the party “strange with this coalition”, Christian Lindner interpreted the now fourth painful election loss in a row. He explained that the FDP was still sticking to it with “state political responsibility”. That sounded very different a year ago. The formula of state-political responsibility should say: actually we don’t want more, but we have to stop.
It’s getting lonely for the liberals
However, it is now becoming quite lonely for the Liberals: In Schleswig-Holstein, the CDU gave them the cold shoulder, in North Rhine-Westphalia and now in Lower Saxony the FDP is not needed. The Liberals threaten to slide into a crisis that could last much longer than the traffic light.
The SPD and Greens owe the fact that there is enough red-green in Hanover to the weakness of the parties, which once proudly described themselves as middle-class and also spoke and acted as such. While the FDP is in the “wrong” alliance, and in any case cannot find its role there, the CDU offers too little substance that could indicate that it could do better. In view of the coalition’s mistakes and the resulting targets for attack, the CDU/CSU appears to be just as weak as the governing alliance.
In Lower Saxony, the top candidate Bernd Althusmann was added, who had to fight against a bad reputation in circles that matter. Althusmann, although in a similar role in the grand coalition, was not an Anke Rehlinger who outclassed the incumbent with the deputy bonus in Saarland. From the top of the CDU it will be said: It was up to the top candidate, see Schleswig-Holstein (radiant Günther), see NRW (happy libertine).
The Greens in Gorleben-Land
There’s something to it. In state elections, the incumbent currently wins if he hasn’t done everything wrong, regardless of which party he belongs to. So that was Stephan Weil, who was well received, didn’t attract attention and knew his trade. However, he is not suitable as a key witness to a successful federal policy. The losses for the SPD were too heavy and the gains for the Greens too weak. The Greens in Gorleben-Land remained far below the national average, which is gradually falling anyway in view of delayed government projects (gas price) or stubborn half-heartedness (nuclear).
All parties should ask themselves why only the AfD was able to really make a profit from it, but the CDU in particular should ask itself. The CDU is no closer to its goal of winning back disappointed Green voters, nor is it the first point of contact for dissatisfied non-voters. Both could have been paraded through in Lower Saxony. A better opportunity is unlikely to present itself for the CDU any time soon.
The AfD, on the other hand, can mobilize its supporters again with the old topic of migration and an anti-American “Eastern policy” that tramples on German interests. A sobering realization shows just how inadequately the CDU and other parties are reacting to the issues that the AfD has been working on for years: the AfD would apparently be elected even if it no longer existed.