Monday, February 21, 2005

Losers United in Kiel.

There was unexpected drama in the state elections in Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany.

Opposition CDU did far better than had been anticipated, gaining 5, 0 % and becoming the largest party in the state for the first time since the 1980's. And the red-green coalition lost very substantial ground, with the SPD losing 4,4 %.

Still, the end result is likely to be that the red-green coalition survives in office with the support of the primarily Danish minority party SSW with their 3,5 % of the vote. It will be, needless to say, a weak government.

But the Schleswig-Holstein election sends a powerful message concerning trends leading up to the key state elections in Nordrhein-Westfalen May 22. That's Germanys biggest state, and the key state election leading up to the September 2006 federal election.

While the federal government under Chancellor Schröder has been gaining ground in the opinion recently, Schleswig-Holstein shows that it's still very much an open question who will govern Germany after next years election.