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What now Berlin, after the election in Hessen?

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The second debacle within 14 days: After the Bayern election, the Union and the SPD have retreated at the state election in Hesse each losses of more than ten percentage points. Things are getting even closer for the grand coalition in Berlin. Nevertheless, both parties call for a new start and a new working culture. But in both parties it’s getting louder.
The memorial in Hesse clearly applied to the government in Berlin, in which all top candidates were in agreement on election night. „The message, which one can and must of course give to Hesse to Berlin: The people would like less dispute, they want objective-oriented work,“ said the Hessian Prime Minister and CDU top candidate Bouffier.

SPD lead candidate Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel spoke of a „serious crisis of trust and credibility“. The SPD in Hesse had been helpless and powerless against the federal trend: „Not only did not receive a tailwind from Berlin, but we had regular squalls in the face“.
„Big projects“ should prove ability to work

For the CDU, the very big catastrophe was missing: Bouffier may well remain in office, what the German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) may give a respite in the clashes of the Union. Shortly after the polls closed, CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was relieved that Merkel colleague Bouffier did not have to vacate his chair – even though she spoke of a „painful“ result.

„Bouffier remains in office“ was the central message of the Federal CDU. Thanks to the strong gains of the Greens, Black-Green, which has been ruling in Hesse since 2013, has a majority of one seat in the new state parliament. For a „Jamaica coalition“ one would still have to get the FDP on board. Kramp-Karrenbauer called for a „new working culture“ of the grand coalition. The Union and the SPD would now have to decide „which three major projects for the future of Germany would like to jointly focus on and concentrate on them“. In mid-November, there will be a cabinet meeting, according to the head of the Chancellor Helge Braun (CDU).

Nice next Sunday, the CDU wants to go to a board meeting, in December is then the party on. Merkel has stated that she will „compete again at the party congress. And I have no other signals until now, „said Kramp-Karrenbauer on Sunday. Above all, „until the hour“ irritated the absent.

In the CDU leadership is assumed that Merkel wants to avoid new chaos in the government and a quick re-election. But their domestic opponents could still come out of cover in the coming weeks and present a serious counter-candidate or a counter-candidate.

„The problem of the critics is currently – for some, an uprising against the head of the CDU comes too early, for the others too late,“ a member of the Bureau analyzes the situation. Neither Kramp-Karrenbauer nor Minister of Health Jens Spahn, for example, could count on a closed support.
Disastrous poll ratings

In Bavaria, the argument of the CDU leadership had been that the CSU lost heavily because of their clear legal course. However, the CDU lost in Hesse with a moderate course also strong. And the poll numbers are devastating. In the „Sunday trend“ of Emnid for the „Bild am Sonntag“ CDU and CSU fell to a new record low and came only to 24 percent approval. In a recent Forsa survey, they lost one percentage point and now stand at 26 percent. By contrast, the high-altitude flight of the Greens continues: They achieve 20 or 21 percent approval and are clearly in second place.

The coalition of Chancellor Merkel has received with the election in Hesse another damper. ORF correspondent Birgit Schwarz describes how much Merkel is in distress.

Even more dramatic are the values of the coalition partner: The SPD reached in the „Sunday trend“ as in the previous week 15 percent and is now behind the AfD with 16 percent (plus one percentage point) in fourth place. Left and FDP come according to Emnid again at ten percent each. The Forsa survey for RTL / n-tv sees the SPD at 14 percent. The AfD loses compared to the previous week, a percentage point and also comes to 14 percent. The Left increase by one point and reach ten percent approval, the FDP receives nine percent.

Nahles with – generous – ultimatum

SPD leader Andrea Nahles found clear words on election night and issued an ultimatum for the Grand Coalition. The Union and SPD would now have to agree on a „binding roadmap,“ she said. At its implementation to the „mid-term review“ of the government in the middle of the legislature will decide whether the SPD in the coalition is still „right lifted“.
It used a dual strategy: it wants to set the Union deadlines for the implementation of government projects and at the same time accelerate the process of renewal of the SPD. This can be seen as a rescue attempt for the coalition or as creating conditions for exit and new elections. However, the middle of the legislative period is only around a year away. Whether the game works for a while can be doubted. After all, the SPD remains in Hesse before the green. If she had slipped to third place, the debate would probably have turned out even more violent.
Debate on coalition exit and party presidency

However, the deputy SPD leader Malu Dreyer called for a sharper demarcation of her party from the Union in the grand coalition in the federal government. „We were too lenient with the coalition partner in Berlin,“ she told the „Rheinische Post“ (Monday issue). The dispute between the Union parties CDU and CSU had also damaged the SPD as a coalition partner.

The party Hilde Mattheis had already spent before the election evening the slogan in a member survey should be voted on the fate of the Grand Coalition. Juso chairman Kevin Kühnert also questioned the government coalition in Berlin: „Under the conditions under which we work in Berlin, the SPD can not get a foot on earth in any state.“

Even Nahles as party leader is up for debate. However, there are hardly any alternatives so far, which says a lot about the state of the party. And the disappointed top candidate Schäfer-Gümbel summed it up on election night: „We exchanged our chairpersons a bit frequently, and frankly, it did not work out.“