BERLIN (Reuters) - Seven of Germany’s 16 states held elections this year, dealing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling center-right coalition of conservatives and Free Democrats (FDP) a string of setbacks ahead of the next federal elections due in 2013.
Merkel’s government is under pressure and public squabbling within the coalition, particularly over euro zone policy, has increased with leaders of the ruling parties at odds.
The year began with Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) losing control of Hamburg to the center-left Social Democrats in the first state vote on February 20. They then lost the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, which they had ruled for 58 years.
In May Merkel’s party suffered its worst result in 52 years in the city state of Bremen, following this with its poorest ever showing in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in September, where the Chancellor has her own constituency.
Results for her junior coalition partners the FDP have been just as dismal. The party saw its share of the vote fall in six of the seven state elections, and was ejected from four state assemblies, including Berlin, after falling below the 5 percent threshold.
Following are details of the state elections.
September 18 - BERLIN
The SPD, led by popular Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit, saw its lead slip by almost 2 percent to 29.5 percent, according to first exit polls. The CDU managed to improve some 2 percent on its 2006 showing, polling 23 percent, and remaining the second largest party. The Greens gained almost 5 percent to 18 percent. Support for the FDP collapsed to just 2 percent from a previous 7.6 percent.
The Left Party, a union of former communists and disgruntled Social Democrats, saw its share of the vote fall slightly, while the protest Pirate party won a shocking 8.5 percent to enter the state assembly for the first time.
The most likely outcomes is an SPD-Greens coalition but a SPD-CDU coalition is also possible.
September 4 - MECKLENBURG-VORPOMMERN
The SPD, the largest party in the depressed north-eastern state where Merkel has her constituency, increased their share of the vote by 5.5 points to 35.7 percent and are in talks about what kind of coalition government to form.
The CDU, the SPD’s previous junior coaltion partners suffered their worst-ever result in the state, falling to 23.1 percent from 28.8 percent. Support for the FDP collapsed to 2.7 percent from a previous 9.6 percent, ejecting them from the state assembly.
May 22 - BREMEN
Merkel’s conservatives suffered their worst result for 52 years in the German city state of Bremen as voters re-elected the SDP-led coalition.
The CDU came in behind the Greens for the first time in a German election and the FDP failed to keep their seats. [nLDE74M0YA] The SPD, who rule Germany’s smallest state since 1945, renewed their coalition with the second-placed Greens.
March 27 - BADEN-WUERTTEMBERG
The Greens and Social Democrats ousted Merkel’s party in the industrial state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, which the conservatives had ruled for 58 consecutive years.
Merkel handed the Greens victory with her mishandling of the nuclear issue in a state where anti-nuclear sentiment was mobilised by events in Japan. The Greens also beat their traditional allies, the Social Democrats, surging to their first state premiership.
The CDU, which has governed the state for 58 years, took 39.0 percent and their FDP partners 5.3 percent. The Greens finished second with 24.2 percent and their SPD allies took 23.1 percent, enabling the center left to form a new government.
March 27 - RHINELAND-PALATINATE
The Greens’ advance in Baden-Wuerttemberg was mirrored in another state election on the same day in Rhineland-Palatinate, where the SPD held onto power in coalition with the Greens.
The SPD won 35.7 percent of the vote, narrowly ahead of the CDU on 35.2 percent. The Greens polled 15.4 percent and the FDP trailed at 4.2.
March 20 - SAXONY-ANHALT
The CDU fell 3.7 points to 32.5 percent in the poor eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt but held onto power in a grand coalition with the SPD, who won 21.5 percent. The FDP won only 3.8 percent of the vote and were ejected from the state assembly in Magdeburg, which party chief Guido Westerwelle, the foreign minister, called a “bitter defeat.”
February 20 - HAMBURG
The CDU was swept from power in Hamburg with their worst result since World War Two, plunging 20.7 percentage points from the last election to 21.9 percent.
Reporting by Berlin bureau