The German Social Democrats (SPD) have had few opportunities in recent years to celebrate victories. Sunday February 23, it was with great relief that they learned of the results of the regional elections in Hamburg, where they obtained 39% of the vote, according to an almost final count. Admittedly, this represents a decline of around 6.5 points compared to 2015, but at least the SPD has managed, this time, to maintain pole position in one of its strongholds: after being for the first once outstripped by conservatives in Bremen in May 2019, and after being captured by the Greens at Hanover city hall, six months later, the Social Democrats retain their stronghold in Hamburg, which they have led almost without interruption since the end of the war.
This victory of the SPD, mainly due to the balance sheet of the outgoing mayor, Peter Tschentscher, judged positive by 67% of the voters of Hamburg, and of his predecessor Olaf Scholz, the current vice-chancellor and federal minister of finance, should not however do illusion: Sunday, those who had the most reasons to celebrate were Les Verts. With a little more than 24% of the votes, they double their score in 2015. If they had hoped to do better for a time – in January, a poll had placed them on par with the SPD -, environmentalists have once more confirmed on Sunday that they are the political force currently enjoying the greatest momentum in Germany.
In Hamburg as elsewhere, their progress is due to three main factors. The first is the growing interest of voters in climate protection, cited by 79% of respondents as a determining factor of their choice, according to a poll conducted in Hamburg before the election. The second is the good image of their candidates, in this case Katharina Fegebank, 42, considered a more warm and accessible personality than the outgoing Social Democratic mayor, of whom she was the first deputy. Third factor in the success of the Greens: their ability to attract disappointed big parties: on Sunday, environmentalists would have won 32,000 voters who voted for the SPD in 2015 and 11,000 among those who then gave their voice to the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), according to the Infratest dimap institute.
“It’s a painful day for the CDU”
The CDU, precisely. With 11.2% of the vote (-4.7), only two points more than the left party Die Linke, the Conservatives are the big losers in the election. The CDU had never obtained such a low score in a regional election since their rout in 1951 in the Land of Bremen (9%). “It’s a painful day for the CDU”, said Paul Ziemiak, the party’s secretary general, on Sunday evening, before explaining: “What happened in Thuringia and all the discussions it provoked did not help the CDU – it’s the least we can say – to campaign in Hamburg », he said, referring to the outcry over the election of the Liberal Democratic Party (FDP) candidate to head Thuringia on February 5 thanks to the votes of the CDU and the far-right party. Alternative for Germany (AfD). A vote that pushed the designated “runner-up” of Mme Merkel at the head of the CDU, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, to give up running for her chancellorship during the next legislative elections, scheduled for autumn 2021.