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Press review

September 5, 2011

After state elections in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on Sunday dealt Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) another blow in local elections, the German press set out to analyze what the results mean.

A hand places a ballot into a ballot box
One after another, the SPD is taking state electionsImage: dpa

Large gains by the Social Democrats (SPD) in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania reflect a trend seen in other state elections over the past year, and the Berliner Morgenpost sees this trend continuing. The paper writes that "although there may be a lack of organization at the top of the party, the SPD's comeback via state elections is possible for one reason: the SPD's ability to go in more than one direction when forming a coalition." Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania's SPD state premier, Erwin Sellering, "can pick between the Left party and the CDU, and in two weeks [Social Democrat Berlin Mayor] Klaus Wowereit will likely have his pick between three parties" when the city-state of Berlin goes to the polls.

Cologne's Express newspaper looks further into the future, to national elections in two years. "Thanks to a strong tailwind from state elections, the SPD can finally dream of a shift in power at the federal level. They would be well-advised, however, not to counteract this positive trend with nerve-racking bickering - over a potential chancellor candidate, for example - as they have done in the past. Otherwise their dreams could quickly turn to nightmares."

For the Kölner Stadtanzeiger, it's clear that Merkel's CDU is experiencing an identity crisis. But that could also be said of the SPD, the paper writes. "The SPD can hardly say where they hope their current ascent will take them - except into power. German politics are especially anemic in these turbulent times."

Angela Merkel
Merkel and the CDU can only grin and bear itImage: AP

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung points out that there are other factors in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania that affect the outcome of the polls: The state has the highest unemployment and one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country. "Like nearly everything in politics, this is a question of perspective," the paper writes. "But it is nonetheless a sign that there is a lack of mobilization of the middle, which no longer knows where the opposition is."

Rather than praising the SPD for their gains or blasting the CDU for their losses, Berlin's Bild Zeitung puts the crosshairs on the Free Democrats (FDP), who did not receive the necessary five percent of votes to gain representation in the state parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. "Can it get any worse?" the paper asks. Referring to a shuffle at the very top of the party that saw Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle replaced by then Health Minister Philipp Rösler as the party chair, Bild writes that the parties "political putsch has run out of steam, and now FDP voters have staged their own putsch. If Rösler and his comrades can't turn over a new leaf soon, it will be a bitter defeat for the FDP. For [them], there is only one hope: it must once again be clear to voters what this party stands for and who they are fighting for."

Author: Matt Zuvela
Editor: Nancy Isenson