SPD wins northern German city state election, Greens suffer heavy losses
NDR / Weser Kurier
The Social Democrats (SPD) have emerged as the clear winner of the state election in Bremen, Germany’s smallest state, while the Green Party suffered its worst result in the city state in almost 25 years. The SPD received 29.9 percent of the votes, followed by the conservative Christian Democrats (25.7%), and the Greens as a distant third with 11.7 percent, according to preliminary results published by public broadcaster NDR. While the SPD was able to improve its result compared to the previous election in 2019 by almost 5 percentage points, the CDU lost 1 point, and the Green Party 5.7 points. The Left Party received 11.2 percent of the votes and the right-wing Bürger in Wut (Citizens in Anger), which benefitted from an exclusion of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) due to formal errors in its election registration, attained 9.6 percent. The pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), which together with the SPD and the Greens form the federal government coalition, received 5.2 percent, meaning it narrowly passed the 5-percent threshold needed to enter into the state’s parliament. Incumbent SPD mayor Andreas Bovenschulte is likely to also lead the next city government. However, he did not immediately promise to continue the current Bremen coalition with the Greens and the Left Party. He added that he would also hold talks with the CDU to sound out a possible coalition. Bovenschulte called the success of the Citizens in Anger party “a reason for concern.”
In an opinion piece for local newspaper Weser Kurier, Silke Hellwig called the right-wing party “the winner among the election winners,” as the Citizens in Anger made the largest gains of all parties. However, “the Greens receive most of the attention,” Hellwig added. The worst result in over two decades, which unusually placed Bremen’s Green Party below the national average, will likely lead to a change of the party’s leadership in the city state, Hellwig said. The SPD’s victory could, to some extent, be directly attributed to voters moving away from the Greens, she argued. At the national level, the party is currently under pressure due to a controversial law on banning fossil gas heating and allegations of cronyism by parts of the media and the opposition. The allegations arose after a Green state secretary in the economy and climate action ministry, Patrick Graichen, failed to disclose early in the process to find a new head for the government-owned German Energy Agency (dena) that the ministry’s appointee was his best man at his wedding. However, the Greens were able to avert losses in parallel municipal elections in the northern state Schleswig-Holstein, where they improved their result compared to the previous election in 2018 by 1.2 percentage points to 17.7 percent, NDR reported. This again made them the third strongest party, behind the CDU with 33.8 percent and the SPD with 19.4 percent, who both lost votes compared to the previous election.