Left could win September German election, but performs badly in Dutch election

German state elections were held on March 14 in Baden-Württemberg (BW) and Rhineland-Palatinate (RP). In the RP election, the centre-left SPD won 39 of the 101 seats (steady since 2016), the conservative CDU 31 (down four), the Greens ten (up four), the far-right AfD nine (down five), the pro-business FDP six (down one) and an independent alliance six (up six).

In Germany, parties need at least 5% to qualify for a proportional share of seats. The FDP and independents narrowly cleared that threshold with 5.5% and 5.4% respectively, while left votes were wasted on the Left party (2.5%) and an animal rights’ party (1.7%). As a result, the SPD and Greens, with 49 combined seats, are short of the 51 required for a majority.

At the BW election, the Greens won 58 of the 154 seats (up 11 since 2016), the CDU 42 (steady), the SPD 19 (steady), the FDP 18 (up six) and the AfD 17 (down six). The Greens and SPD, with 77 combined seats, were one short of the 78 required for a majority. As in RP, this was due to wasted left votes, with the 3.6% for the Left party short of the 5% threshold.

The next German federal election is expected to be held on September 26. Angela Merkel, who has been the CDU’s leader and German Chancellor since 2005, will not contest this election. The CDU’s leader will be the moderate Armin Laschet, who defeated the conservative Friedrich Merz in a January leadership election by a 52.8-47.2 margin.

When the COVID crisis hit, the CDU/CSU had a big surge in their support, going from the high 20’s to near 40%. However, possibly due to frustration with the slow pace of vaccination, support has slumped below 30% recently. Current vote shares are about 30% CDU/CSU, 18% Greens, 16% SPD, 11% AfD, 9% FDP and 8% Left.

Right-wing parties currently have 47% and left parties 42%, but if the CDU/CSU’s slump continues, the left parties could be in a combined winning position by the election in September.

An overall win for the left may not be enough for a left government, however. After both the 2005 and 2013 elections, the overall left seats were enough for a majority, but the SPD refused to cooperate with the Left party, preferring to be the junior partners in a CDU-led grand coalition with Merkel as Chancellor. As a result, support for both the traditional major parties crashed at the 2017 election.

Dismal result for the left in Dutch election

Owing to COVID, the Dutch election was held over three days, from March 15-17. The combined governing coalition, that includes the conservative VVD, socially liberal D66 and two Christian parties, won 78 of the 150 seats,, retaining its majority. The VVD won 35 seats (up two since 2017), D66 23 (up four) and the two Christian parties a combined 20 seats (down four).

The major left-wing parties performed dismally. In 2012, Labour won 38 seats, but were reduced to their worst ever result with nine seats in 2017. They failed to regain any support, winning nine seats again. The Socialists also won nine seats (down five) and the Greens eight (down six). An animals’ rights party won six (up one).

On the far-right spectrum, while the Party for Freedom won 17 seats (down three), the Forum for Democracy won eight (up six). The Netherlands uses national proportional representation.