Angela Merkel’s CDU is having a tough time of late. The latest blow came via the Berlin state parliament election, where the party managed to cling on to second place but was dumped out of the city’s government.
This was the CDU’s worst ever performance in an election in the German capital. It took a meagre 18% of the vote (down from 23.3% in 2011).
The Social Democrats (SPD) also lost votes (down from 28.3% to around 22%), as did the Greens (from just over 17% to around 15.5%). The one consolation for the SPD and Greens is that they are likely to be key players in the next Berlin government – even if as part of a rather broad and unwieldy left-wing coalition alongside the Left Party.
The main winners, as had been widely predicted, were the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD). The AfD was nowhere in sight in 2011, but took around 13% of the vote this time round. A heavily anti-immigration (and particularly anti-refugee) rhetoric has chimed with parts of the electorate beyond Berlin, and the party now sits in 10 of Germany’s 16 regional parliaments. It is almost certain to add Saarland, Schleswig-Holstein, Northrhine-Westphalia and the federal parliament to this list in 2017.