Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats (SPD) faced significant losses in the state elections of Hesse and Bavaria in Germany on Sunday. These defeats come as a blow to Scholz, who has been struggling with low approval ratings.
In Hesse, which is considered the country’s financial hub, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is projected to win 34.6% of the votes, according to a forecast by broadcaster ARD. In contrast, the Social Democrats are expected to receive only 15.1% of the votes, marking a decrease of more than four points since 2018.
Meanwhile, in Bavaria, which is Germany’s second-largest state in terms of population and is home to many industrial companies, the CDU’s sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), is projected to secure 36.6% of the votes, slightly lower than the 37.2% they received in 2018. On the other hand, the Social Democrats are only expected to obtain 8.1% of the votes, down from 9.7% in 2018.
These results highlight the diminishing support for Scholz and the SPD. The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party secured second place in both states, receiving 18.5% of the votes in Hesse and 15.7% in Bavaria. This represents an improvement in their results compared to the previous elections, with an increase of more than five points in both states. The AfD is known for advocating for stricter immigration policies and has been critical of Germany’s involvement in NATO as well as its decision to supply weapons to Ukraine.
Scholz’s government has faced criticism for various issues, including high inflation and energy price hikes, as well as policies aimed at transitioning towards a green economy. The chancellor has even encountered opposition and backlash during campaign events, where he was heckled and booed by attendees. In one instance, he was even called a “warmonger” by angry critics.
Furthermore, a recent ARD DeutschlandTrend poll revealed that the approval of Scholz’s government is at its lowest level since he took office in December 2021. The poll indicated that four out of five Germans are dissatisfied with his performance.
The election results in Hesse and Bavaria serve as a clear indication of the declining popularity of the SPD and Chancellor Scholz. These defeats reflect the challenges faced by the party in effectively addressing the concerns and priorities of the German citizens. It remains to be seen how Scholz and the SPD will respond to these setbacks and regain the support of the electorate in the future.