In the general election of September 22, the German Greens won a very disappointing 8.4% of the vote. This represents a loss of 2.3% compared to the 2009 result (10.7%). They will hold 63 seats in the Bundestag instead of their previous 68.
We did not manage to transform the societal majorities into political majorities,” said German Greens Co-Chair Claudia Roth, taking the stage in front of Green campaigners and supporters on yesterday’s election night. Greens had enjoyed broad public support for core issues such as the energy transformation (Energiewende), a minimum wage, and restricting global arms exports. But it is clear that this topical support did not translate into the expected increase in votes.“
Over the last four years, the German Greens have never been as weak in the polls as they were on election day. The average polling results of the last few weeks had generally ranged from 13% to 14%, up to 15% in some polls, and 12% at their lowest.
“This was our election to grow,” said EGP Co-Chair Reinhard Bütikofer, “and now we could not even sustain previous levels of support. This is a very bitter defeat.”
Several leading German Green politicians have said they will analyse the reasons for the loss as a matter of urgency. Some have called for a fresh start. This could well mean a reshuffling of the parliamentary and party leadership. Tough discussions are expected at the upcoming party conference, to be held in Berlin next Saturday, September 28.
Early comments identified economic and tax policies as possible reasons for the defeat. Some criticised the Greens for not showing enough leadership with regards to their core fields of competency, like Energiewende. A peculiar debate about “veggie day,” and very ugly public discussions over the influence that paedophiles had in the early years of the German Greens (and how the party recently had come clean about that specific part of its heritage), also contributed to a loss of trust.
With a result of 41.5%, Merkel’s CDU / CSU did gain considerably (2009: 33,8%), and only narrowly missed having a majority of seats. The German liberals, FDP, failed to pass the 5% threshold. This marks a historic low for their party - it has never happened to them on a federal level before. The German Pirate Party got 2.2% while the Eurosceptic and right-wing AFD – “Alternative für Deutschland” won 4.7%, just 0.3% below the threshold. They might become a relevant contender in the European elections next year. SPD improved a little from 23% to 25.7%. Most pundits expect a formation of a so-called grand coalition, after difficult and possibily lengthy negotiations.
In the state of Hessen, the Greens also succumbed to the generally negative trend. They fell from 13.7% to 11.1%. The results for the other parties were CDU 38.3% (2009: 37.2%), SPD 30.7% (2009:23.7%), FDP 5% (2009:16.2%), Linke 5.2% (2009:5.4%) AfD 4%, others 5.7%. Coalition negotiations are likely to become very complicated.