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The Bavarian earthquake

Posted by Mad Mitch on UTC 2018-10-15 10:05.

Yesterday a German regional election was held in Bavaria.

The headline writers and the commentariat knew well in advance what was about to happen in the 'Free State' of Bavaria – the poll results have been steady for weeks – and so had plenty of time to work on their shock-horror reports. From the moment the provisional results became known at six o'clock on Sunday evening they gave their readers and viewers and listeners both journalistic barrels.

BILD will do us for a sample (you get a lot of headlines for your money in BILD): 'Germany shaken', 'Disaster for the CSU', 'Disaster for the SPD', 'Triumph for the Greens', 'Green is the new red'. Most of the other main outlets say much the same. This being Germany, no opportunity for an exclamation mark is left unseized.

The results are indeed worth a look:

Party Vote Change Seats
CSU 37.2% -10.5 85
Grüne 17.5% +8.9 38
Freie Wähler 11.6% +2.6 27
AfD 10.2% +10.2 22
SPD 9.7% -10.9 22
FDP 5.1% +0.1 11
Die Linke 3.2% +1.1 0
andere 5.5% -3.2 0

The turnout was very high (72.4%). The CSU lost badly, as did the SPD. The FDP crossed the five percent hurdle for parliamentary representation by only the slightest margin. The Greens received a massive increase in their vote – it seems they got many of the votes that the SPD lost. That Bavarian speciality, the Freie Wähler, the 'Free Voters' (a sort of 'CSU-Light') also profited (2.5%).

The major media outlets choose to ignore the biggest gainer of the election, the AfD, who went from 0 to 10.2% – a very impressive result for a first-timer. It makes them the fourth strongest party in the Bavarian parliament. If it hadn't been for the Freie Wähler offering a Bavarian refuge for discontented CSU voters, the AfD would have done even better. The most remarkable analysis was presented by BILD:

FoS image, size 708x670

According to this, the AfD start-up gained votes from everyone – even Greens and the SPD. The large number of former CSU voters is understandable, but the AfD also pulled in large numbers of votes from the disaffected – those who previously didn't vote or who had voted for the oddball parties listed under Sonstige, 'Others'.

Breathe deeply

Now we have got all the sensational stuff out of our system we can return to the Figures of Speech paradigm of German politics: nothing ever changes. Once more its validity has been tested and found to be rock-solid.

205 seats are available. The CSU can now form a comfortable coalition with the Freie Wähler, or an even more comfortable coalition by adding in the FDP. Nothing needs to change or will change. The right is right, the left is left – just the labels have been peeled off and re-stuck.

As far as the Grand Coalition of the Federal Government is concerned it will be business as usual. The vote in Bavaria has no effect on the Federal Government at all. Merkel's position on Monday is no more precarious that it was on Saturday.

Go back to sleep. Nothing changes in Germany, ever – unless of course it does, in which case we may all be in for some interesting times.