Conservatives triumph in northern German state election as Scholz’s SPD takes hit
The conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) have achieved a clear victory in the state elections of northern German Schleswig-Holstein and relegated chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats (SPD) to the third place behind the Green Party. According to preliminary results, the CDU received over 43 percent of votes, ahead of a strengthened Green party with about 18 percent, and the SPD's 16 percent, its worst-ever result in the coastal wind power state, public broadcaster NDR reported. The CDU under top candidate and current state premier Daniel Günther narrowly missed winning an absolute majority in the state’s parliament in Kiel and will in all likelihood also lead Schleswig-Holstein’s next coalition government. The Free Democrats (FDP) dropped to about 6 percent and the far-right AfD missed the 5-percent-threshold needed to enter parliament, meaning Schleswig-Holstein is the first state in which the party is voted out again after its rise around 2015. Compared to the previous election, the CDU gained more than 11 percentage points, while the SPD lost about the same share. At the same time, the Green Party gained 5.5 percentage points, while the FDP lost 5 percentage points. Günther, a left-winger within the conservative party, praised the work of his so-called “Jamaica coalition” with the Greens and the FDP, which governed the state since 2017, even though he could now drop one of his junior coalition partners.
The vote in the northern state was also influenced by national politics and the role of Scholz’s SPD-Green-FDP government. The SPD has come under fire in recent weeks for some of its most senior members’ close ties with the Russian energy industry, while chancellor Scholz’s popularity has been shaken since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as he was often perceived as hesitant vis-à-vis the Russian aggression.
The state has been trailblazing the energy transition with its expansive wind energy production, and will become the location for at least one of Germany's planned import terminals for liquefied natural gas (LNG). In the medium and long term, state premier Günther said he banks on renewables and green hydrogen to ensure the state’s position as a key energy transition frontrunner.