Bernd Althusmann (CDU) wants to push Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) out of office in Hanover. The Lower Saxony election campaign puts a strain on the traffic light coalition in Berlin.
Munich – 78 square meters. This is how big the study of Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) is. The CDU politician Bernd Althusmann wants to conquer it in the state elections on October 9th. It could be a close race – and is already casting its shadow as far as Berlin.
The SPD came to 32 percent in the most recent survey, the CDU is within striking distance at 28 percent, the Greens were at 17 percent, and the AfD at 9 percent. The FDP (5 percent) and the left (4 percent) must tremble about entering parliament.
Weil and Althusmann are not only campaign opponents, but also government partners. After Weil’s election victory in 2017, the SPD and CDU formed a grand coalition that has governed Lower Saxony ever since. Weil is prime minister, Althusmann his deputy and economics minister.
In Berlin, too, the Lower Saxony election is seen as an important yardstick
But in the election campaign, the challenger is still fully on criticism of the government – but not so much aimed at Hanover, but above all at Berlin. The state election is “also a vote on the federal government,” emphasizes Althusmann. And in fact, the crisis management of the traffic lights, the back and forth about the gas levy or the dispute about the continued operation of nuclear power plants are the topics around which the Lower Saxony election campaign revolves – state politics takes place more on the sidelines. “I’ve never experienced such an election campaign,” says Weil. (Scholz and country heads now want to discuss the third relief package)
In Berlin, too, the Lower Saxony election is seen as an important yardstick. Decision makers seem concerned about their impact on the outcome. The result is mutual blockages in the already crunching traffic lights.
The fact that the FDP, which has been clearly weakening in several state elections and in federal surveys, does not want to give in to the debt brake so far, may also have something to do with the fact that the Liberals do not want to further weaken their brand core before the close election. After all, they are held jointly liable for the failed gas allocation plans. Some supporters of the FDP also resent the fact that there are still corona measures in Germany.
The Greens also apparently fear damage to their image from the traffic lights
The Greens also apparently fear that the traffic light will damage their image, which could have an impact on the state elections. The Lower Saxony state association is said to have played no small part in the fact that the green traffic light politicians showed little willingness to move when the three remaining nuclear power plants continued to operate.
And the SPD can hardly afford that Weil loses his office – after the elections in Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia it would be the third defeat this year. The Chancellor’s Party is also careful not to upset voters before the decision in Lower Saxony – and has recently made increasing efforts to distance itself from the gas levy plans of Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens).
In Hanover, on the other hand, the Greens are very popular. Compared to its result in 2017 (8.7 percent), the party has increased significantly – and Weil has declared it his partner of choice for a new coalition. Althusmann also flatters the Greens in the “Tagesspiegel” when it comes to their own alliance plans. They are “an independent party that should not be underestimated”. After all, he also has ambitions in the expansion of renewable energies and also has an equal representation on the CDU state list.
Traffic light ahead of big tasks – you can find out what the SPD, Greens and FDP are planning in our political newsletter.
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