Lower Saxony: CDU wins local election

WITHtwo weeks before the federal election, the CDU managed to win the local elections in Lower Saxony despite its poor poll results. The Union reached 31.7 percent, just ahead of the Social Democrats, who received 30.0 percent. The SPD state chairman and prime minister Stephan Weil regretted that it was “just not enough” to push the union from first place after forty years. The CDU state chairman and economics minister Bernd Althusmann described the election victory “despite all prophecies of doom” as an “important signal” for the upcoming federal election. “We have clearly broken the national trend.”

Reinhard Bingener

Political correspondent for Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Bremen based in Hanover.

Both CDU and SPD lost votes in the election. The CDU lost 2.6 percentage points, the SPD 1.2 percentage points. The biggest winners are the Greens, who increased their result by five percentage points to 15.9 percent compared to the 2016 local elections. The FDP increased by 1.7 percentage points to 6.5 percent. Radical parties, which had hardly played a role in Lower Saxony, continued to lose support. The AfD slumped from 7.9 to 4.6 percent, the Left dropped from 3.3 to 2.8 percent.

In addition to the district assemblies, city councils, local councils, local councils and other people’s representatives, many mayors and district administrators were also appointed by direct election. The election of the regional president was also on the agenda in Hanover. The great effort made by the SPD to defend this office paid off; her applicant Steffen Krach achieved 37.1 percent and will run in a runoff election on September 26th against the CDU applicant Christine Karasch, who achieved 29.6 percent. The Green candidate received only 20.8 percent. However, the green party managed to replace the SPD as the strongest force in the state capital’s city council with 27.8 percent. The Social Democrats only achieved 27.6 percent in their former stronghold, where they had already lost the office of Lord Mayor to the Greens in 2019.

Only two applicants win without a runoff

In the mayor elections in the major cities of Lower Saxony, only two applicants managed to avoid a runoff election. In Salzgitter, Mayor Frank Klingebiel (CDU) was confirmed in office with 54.9 percent. In Hildesheim, the non-party mayor Ingo Meyer was confirmed with 58.6 percent.

In the second largest city in Lower Saxony, Braunschweig, the SPD candidate Thorsten Kornblum reached 38.4 percent and is running in the runoff against the non-party Kaspar Haller, who achieved 26.7 percent with the support of the CDU. In Oldenburg, Jürgen Krogmann is about to be re-elected as the first mayor of the third largest city in Lower Saxony for forty years. The SPD politician reached 40.9 percent and is running in the runoff election against the non-party Daniel Fuhrhop, who is supported by the Greens and reached 29.9 percent. In the fourth largest city, Osnabrück, there will be a runoff election between Katharina Pötter (CDU), who achieved 35.8 percent, and the Green candidate Annette Niermann, who received 26.6 percent. The Greens will also be the largest parliamentary group in the Osnabrück city council.

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In Wolfsburg there is a runoff between the CDU applicant Dennis Weilmann, who received 43.0 percent, and the SPD applicant Iris Bothe, who received 32.2 percent. In Göttingen, Petra Broistedt (SPD) made it to the runoff election with 33.4 percent and Doreen Fragel (Greens) with 28.7 percent. The strength of the Greens in the university towns was also evident in Lüneburg, where their candidate Johanna Kalisch achieved 33.7 percent and competed in the runoff against the non-party applicant Heiko Meyer. The applicants from the SPD and CDU performed poorly. Overall, all of these results largely corresponded to the estimates prior to the election.

Goslar stands out

Among the other results, the result from Goslar stands out, where the incumbent mayor Oliver Junk (CDU) only achieved 32.1 percent and the SPD applicant Urte Schwerdtner with 49.4 percent narrowly missed an early decision. Even before the election, it was said that Junks’ political style was encountering increasing reservations among the population. The CDU also suffered a bitter defeat in Ammerland. In the election of the future district administrator, Jens Nacke, Parliamentary Managing Director of the CDU parliamentary group, had to admit defeat in the first ballot to Karin Harms, who was supported by the SPD and the Greens.

The turnout in the local elections was 57.1 percent, 1.5 percentage points higher than in 2016. On Sunday there were complaints from several cities about long waiting times in front of the polling stations. Those responsible cited the many large ballot papers and the complicated right to vote as well as cumbersome corona requirements as the reason. Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) these statements were not enough on Monday. “Such waiting times are not acceptable for the citizens,” said Weil, pointing out that in some parts of the country there were no long queues, but in others there were. Therefore, “one or the other local election organization will certainly have to question itself”.

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