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European elections: The SPD now has a chancellor problem

European elections: The SPD now has a chancellor problem

Who is happy and who is angry? And who is breathing a sigh of relief? star-Flash analysis of the results of the European elections.

The SPD now has a chancellor penalty

No one in the SPD expected them to win by a large margin – but this? There was dead silence in the Willy Brandt House when the forecasts came true: 14 percent, meaning the party had once again undercut its historic low in EU elections (15.8 percent, 2019). That is likely to have consequences, including for the Chancellor.

The Social Democrats have placed Olaf Scholz at the centre of their campaign, trying to position the Chancellor as a prudent and level-headed man in stormy times. Neither the peace sound nor the peace chancellor mobilised people. The latter carries far more weight.

Because the poor result is inevitably linked to Scholz (who was not even running for election) and shows that Scholz is perhaps more of a “lame horse” (Jens Spahn) than a driving force. Just before the three state elections in eastern Germany and the federal election in autumn 2025.

The SPD is now facing turbulent times. The Chancellor is under pressure and the election campaign strategy has not worked. It is “crystal clear” that the party must do something differently, says co-party leader Lars Klingbeil. “Our people want to see us fight.” This also applies to the discussions on the 2025 budget. The SPD must get “the best for our people,” says the party leader.

It was probably also a message to Scholz. Finally deliver, despite all the resistance from the coalition partners, especially the FDP. So that the SPD remains loyal to the ailing chancellor.

Even in the severe crisis, the AfD is successful

The AfD is back. It did not reach the 20 percent that seemed possible at the turn of the year. But after the scandals surrounding the EU top candidates Maximilian Krah and Petr Bystron, the predicted 16 percent for the party can be seen as a face-saving success. The AfD is thus clearly ahead of the three traffic light parties and, alongside the left-populist alliance Sahra Wagenknecht (BSW), has also made the biggest gains. The AfD can do what it wants – it will be elected. Even the greatest turbulence in the party and opaque connections of some of its protagonists to authoritarian states simply do not seem to matter to many AfD voters.

Another alarm signal for the established parties: According to forecasts, the AfD is the strongest force in East Germany. This is of enormous importance for the party in the state elections in Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg in September. Even if the results of the local elections, which are taking place in all of East Germany except Berlin, will not come in until the night, they are likely to only confirm the dominance of the AfD.

This will not be a walkover for Friedrich Merz

The evening brought some good news for Friedrich Merz. The CDU and CSU clearly won the election. The SPD’s election campaign machine is broken. The traffic light coalition is experiencing a debacle. However, the result is unlikely to make anyone in the Union really euphoric. One thing that also sticks is that in the East the CDU is lagging far behind the AfD. And despite the dramatic weakness of the traffic light parties, the Union is only just scraping by around 30 percent.

You might think that’s petty. After all, a victory is a victory and getting to 30 percent in this confusing party system is not a given. That’s all true. But the result also shows how shaky the Union’s success is. If the Union had hoped to gain new momentum for the upcoming state elections in the east, it has been disappointed. With the strong AfD, they will have a tough time.

What’s more, the European elections were a reckoning election with the traffic light coalition, and the Union’s high is borrowed. The federal election will be more personalized. Only then will the question of chancellor arise. Any recovery, no matter how small, by the traffic light coalition in the coming months is likely to increase nervousness among the Christian Democrats and bring one question to the fore: is the Union with Merz really exploiting the potential it actually has?

So the Greens don’t need a candidate for chancellor

Anything over 14.8 percent would have been great. That would have been more than in the federal election. After the miraculous result in the last European election (20.5 percent), it would have been the second best result in the Green Party’s history. Would. Have. Been.

The Greens landed at around twelve percent on this election night, a loss of over eight percentage points. They did not become the second strongest force, nor did they finish ahead of the AfD or the SPD. They only managed fourth place.

Because it is certainly not just the unknown top candidate that is to blame, the Greens now urgently need to clarify a few questions: Why are they, who have been the voters’ darlings for so long, so terribly unpopular? Why are they facing such a rough wind? Why are they still considered ideologues despite a pragmatism that borders on self-denial? And how do they intend to resolve this dilemma: They have buried any kind of radical climate policy. This does not seem to appease their opponents. But it is now evidently disappointing their own people.

The Greens have now been thrown back to their core milieu. There is no longer any talk of winning over other groups of voters, let alone of becoming a popular party. At least the voters answered one question themselves that evening: the Greens do not need a male or female candidate for chancellor.

Not even Strack-Zimmermann can save the FDP

Five percent. Phew, lucky, that’s fine. It could have been much worse. That’s the mood in the FDP.

Lead candidate Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann has stabilized the FDP. She ran a bold and offensive election campaign, as one would expect from her. She repeated the European result from 2019. And in doing so, she is ensuring that no new unrest comes into the party. The party leadership’s calculation has paid off: who else should have done it if not the contentious and argumentative defense politician with a high level of talk show fame? Exactly.

But it is certainly not a liberating blow. The Strack-Zimmermann effect is missing. She too was unable to deliver the success that would bring the momentum that the Liberals so urgently need in these fateful weeks for the traffic light coalition. Yes, party leader Christian Lindner will not have to spend weeks justifying this European election result. That is the good news. But all the other problems are just as big as before.

A Sahra does not make a summer

Party mood at the Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance: The party is only six months old and is now entering the European Parliament straight away. It has also bypassed the party to which many of the BSW’s leading figures belonged until recently, the Left Party.

But there is a lot to suggest that the party strategists will soon be suffering from a hangover. They had expected even more. Party founder Sahra Wagenknecht was not even on the ballot paper. But she was the one who appeared on the posters.

Five percent in the European elections is not five percent in the federal elections. She knows that herself. There is no five percent hurdle in the European elections, and voters are more likely to experiment with their votes than in the federal elections.

Compared to that, the BSW’s result is not outstanding. Now the party must prove that it can hold its own in the state elections in eastern Germany in the autumn. Otherwise, it will probably suffer the same fate in the 2025 federal election as the Left Party, which sank into political insignificance in the European elections. The Left Party’s calculation that it could make a fresh start after the departure of the controversial former parliamentary group leader Wagenknecht was finally dashed on Sunday evening. It is almost certain that she will no longer be a member of the next Bundestag.

Source: Stern

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