GERMAN BRIEF: CITIES
Social Democrats gain in Bremen, while the Green Party suffers losses
15 May 2023: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) became the largest party in Sunday’s (14 May) state elections in Bremen. The main opposition party, the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) lost votes as did the Green Party, which is a partner in the outgoing coalition government under Social Democrat Mayor Andreas Bovenschulte. The city of Bremen together with the sea port of Bremerhaven form Germany’s smallest state with a combined population of some 683,000.
While Bremen, because of its small size, is not a bellwether state, the clear victory of the Social Democrats should give the party a welcome boost nationally after its electoral losses in Berlin in February. The local SPD clearly benefitted from the popularity of Andreas Bovenschulte, while some of the Greens’ policies have proved unpopular, particularly its leader’s decision to scrap, in her role as transport senator, a free short-term parking option which allowed drivers to quickly pop into local shops.
The local right-wing protest party Bürger in Wut (Angry Citizens) benefitted from absence of its national right-wing rival the AfD which was excluded from the elections because of internal strife.
It will now be up to Mayor Bovenschulte to choose his preferred partner(s) for the coming four years. He can either continue with his current coalition partners the Greens and the Left Party (Die Linke) or form a grand coalition (Grosse Koalition) with the centre-right CDU.
Elections results in detail
(2019 results in brackets)
Current government parties
Social Democrats (SPD) 30.1% (24.9%)
The Greens (Grüne) 12.0% (17.4%)
The Left (Die Linke) 11.1% (11.3%)
Current opposition parties
Christian Democrats (CDU) 25% (26.7%
Bürger in Wut (BiW) 9.7% (2.4%)
Free Democrats (FDP) 5.2% (5.9%)
The election results in the two-city state of Bremen differ greatly in some cases. This is particularly evident in the election success of the BiW in Bremen. The party achieved over 20 per cent in Bremerhaven, but only 7.5 per cent in Bremen. The Left Party, on the other hand, performed significantly worse in Bremerhaven than in Bremen: While it received around 6 per cent of the vote there, the figure in Bremen remains just under 12 per cent. The results for the SPD hover in both cities around 30 per cent.
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