Under long-time Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany had always been used to stability. Regardless of which political crises would hit its neighbours and other countries in the world, it was guaranteed that in Germany, the government would stand tall. Yes, there was the odd conflict or controversy, but rarely anything more serious.
These were the good old days, Merkel has to be thinking by now. Ever since last year’s general election, when her conservative CDU, its Bavarian sister party the CSU, and the social democratic SPD all suffered heavy losses, her job has gotten much more difficult. The three parties decided to establish a governing coalition, nonetheless, but since the new government came into force in March of this year, one crisis has followed another. At this point, the big surprise is that this “grand coalition’ is still somehow holding together.
And for many voters, there’s nothing especially ‘grand’ about the arrangement. Yesterday’s elections in Bavaria, Germany’s largest and economically strongest state, showed once again that people are frustrated by the establishment parties. They may have taken their time, but Germans are now joining the rest of Europe in looking for alternatives from the so called ‘Volksparteien’, the parties that have ruled for decades.
In Bavaria, Merkel’s conservative partners the CSU saw their share of the vote plummet by ten percentage points to reach 37.2 percent. While they are still the largest party by some distance, yesterday was their worst result since 1950. It was even worse for the SPD who ended up in fifth place with just 9.7 per cent of the vote, having lost almost eleven percentage points over the last five years.