Clear victory for incumbent coalition in Hamburg election

By Bernhard Sprengel and Wolfgang Schmidt, dpa

Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) have come out on top in the Hamburg regional election with 39.0 per cent of the vote, according to provisional results released by the electoral commission late Sunday.

The Greens, who have been in coalition with the SPD for the past five years in the northern German port city, came second with 24.2 per cent, having doubled their vote from the last election in 2015. The result means the coalition is likely to continue.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) suffered their worst regional parliament result for almost 70 years, getting only 11.2 per cent of the vote.

The hard-left Die Linke (The Left) managed to increase its vote slightly from 8.5 to 9.1 per cent.

The far-right anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) got 5 per cent and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) 5.3 per cent, assuring that they will enter parliament.

The AfD’s 6.1-per-cent polling in 2015 saw it enter its first western parliament; until then it was only represented in the states that made up the former East Germany. It is now represented in all 16 states.

The liberal FDP is under pressure locally since a political crisis in the central state of Thuringia. Last time around it won 7.4 per cent.

The election of FDP politician Thomas Kemmerich to the post of Thuringia state premier with votes from the CDU and the AfD seems to have harmed all three parties; it was the first time a state premier was elected with votes from the AfD.

Turnout was up despite the stormy weather, with state electoral chief Oliver Rudolf confirming that as predicted, it was over top 60 per cent on Sunday, coming in at 63.3 per cent. In 2015, voter turnout reached a historic low of just 56.5 per cent.

The vote in Hamburg, the country’s second-largest city with 1.85 million inhabitants, is the only regional election in Germany this year and it seems to have delivered the SPD a rare electoral success.

Nationally, the SPD has been in a tailspin, so success in Hamburg would give the ailing party a much-needed boost. Meanwhile, the Greens have been riding high, often coming in second in national opinion polls to Merkel’s conservative bloc.

Fifteen parties were competing for the 121 seats in the Hamburg parliament, two more than in the election five years ago.

Polling stations were open between 8 am and 6 pm (0700-1700 GMT) for the city’s 1.3 million eligible voters .

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