Voters in Hamburg have given the Social Democrats a mandate to govern the city-state for another four years. This time, though, they will need a coalition partner - most likely the Greens.
Leading figures from the Social Democrats (SPD) and the other parties who contested the first state election of 2015 were due to hold consultations in both Hamburg and Berlin on Monday to analyze the results and draw any possible lessons from the results of Sunday's vote.
The big winner was clearly Hamburg's mayor, Olaf Scholz, who, many would argue, can now expect to wield more influence in the party at a national level as a result.
"The result in Hamburg is first and foremost a personal victory for Olaf Scholz, but it has also given the entire SPD a boost," Thomas Oppermann, the leader of the SPD's parliamentary group in the Bundestag, told the Rheinische Post newspaper.
Sunday's election saw Scholz and the SPD win another resounding victory in the northern German port city, but at 45.7 percent, their share of the vote was actually slightly down from four years ago (48.4 percent).
This means that unlike after the 2011 vote, Scholz, a former federal labor minister, will be forced to seek a coalition partner to govern. The Greens, who took 12.2 percent - gaining slightly from four years ago - are regarded as the most natural fit.
After the results were announced, the Greens' leading candidate in Hamburg, Jens Kerstan, appeared confident about having his party's agenda clearly reflected in any coalition agreement.
"We will negotiate hard, and will then be a dependable partner," Kerstan said.
Speaking on ARD public television on Sunday evening, Scholz confirmed that he would seek to open coalition talks with the Greens, noting that due to the clarity of the results, the SPD would be negotiating from a position of strength.
AfD breakthrough in western Germany
Also notable about Sunday's election was the fact that the euro-skeptic Alternative for Germany (AfD) will enter the Hamburg assembly for the first time, having taken 6.1 percent of the vote. This is the first time that the party, which was founded just two years ago, has won seats in a state assembly in western Germany.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, on the other hand, posted their worst ever result in Hamburg, taking just 15.9 percent compared to 21.9 percent four years ago.
The liberal Free Democrats (FDP), who failed to clear the five-percent hurdle in a string of elections over the past couple of years, were up slightly, taking a solid 7.4 percent.
The far-left Left party picked up significantly, taking 8.5 percent, compared to 6.7 in 2011.
At 56.6 percent, voter turnout was slightly down from five years ago.
pfd/kms (dpa, AFP, Reuters)