SPD wins Bremen election – Red-Green-Red could continue to govern

The SPD won the election in the state of Bremen by a wide margin. According to projections by ARD and ZDF, the Social Democrats were clearly ahead of the CDU on Sunday evening.

Mayor Andreas Bovenschulte (SPD) could continue his previous red-green-red coalition. However, he announced that he would not only talk about an alliance with the Greens and the Left, but also with the CDU. Bovenschulte spoke of a “terrific result” for his party, which has been the mayor for almost 80 years.

According to the projections, the co-governing Greens ended up in third place, but with significant losses. They were followed by the third coalition partner, the Left Party, and the right-wing populist voters’ association Bürger in Wut (BiW), which rose sharply. The FDP narrowly managed to re-enter the state parliament, the Bremen Parliament. The AfD was not allowed to vote because it had submitted two competing lists.

CDU at 25.7 to 26.7 percent

According to the projections, the Social Democrats were ahead at 29.4 to 29.9 percent – they were able to improve on their historically poor result from 2019 (24.9 percent). The CDU with top candidate Frank Imhoff came to 25.7 to 26.7 percent (2019: 26.7). The Greens slipped to 11.3 to 12.7 percent (17.4). At 10.6 to 10.9 percent, the left achieved roughly the same result as in 2019 (11.3). Citizens in anger increased sharply to 9.5 to 10.1 percent (2.4). With 5.2 percent, the FDP just barely cleared the five percent hurdle (5.9). Voter turnout was reported at 57.4 to 57.5 percent – down from 64.1 percent in 2019.

According to the projections, the SPD will receive 27 to 28 seats in the parliament. The CDU gets 24 to 25 seats, the Greens get 10 to 12. The left gets 10 seats, the FDP 5 and the BiW 9.

SPD federal leader Lars Klingbeil said the victory would give “tailwind for us here in Berlin too”. Regarding the coalition question, he said: “They don’t need any advice from the federal level.” Greens’ top candidate Maike Schaefer spoke of a bitter result and said she was not afraid to take responsibility herself. However, the government coalition wants to continue. Greens leader Omid Nouripour admitted that there was “certainly no tailwind” from the Greens in the federal government. It is a “day of humility”.

Imhoff: “Of course we want to have a say in government”

CDU top candidate Frank Imhoff said his party was ready for exploratory talks with the SPD. “Of course we want to help govern.” Left top candidate and Senator for Economic Affairs Kristina Vogt hopes for quick exploratory talks, as she said. FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai expressed his confidence that the FDP would return to parliament. “That was our main goal.”

The right-wing populist BiW benefited from the fact that the AfD was not allowed. For the first time, they are moving into parliament with faction strength. In Bremerhaven, according to the ARD forecast, they even got 21.5 percent in the early evening – compared to 8.5 percent in Bremen. The AfD got 6.1 percent of the votes in the 2019 election. The BiW locate themselves between the CDU and AfD. Top candidate Piet Leidreiter said that BiW had always done good Realpolitik and had its own conservative offer.

A provisional official final result is not expected until the middle of the week – the counting is lengthy due to the complicated Bremen electoral system. When voting, voters can tick up to five boxes. During the night, the state returning authority only publishes an official extrapolation, which experience has shown is already close to the final result.

Bovenschulte mayor for four years

SPD top candidate Bovenschulte has been mayor and president of the Senate for four years. The 57-year-old, who has a doctorate in law, was previously mayor of the neighboring municipality of Weyhe in Lower Saxony, but from 2010 to 2013 he was also chairman of the SPD in Bremen. The almost two meter tall rock music fan, called “Bovi”, is considered a party leftist. CDU leader Imhoff is a trained farmer and landscaper and is the fifth generation to run a farm in the Strom district. The 54-year-old has been a citizen since 1999.

In the smallest German federal state, the two-city state of Bremen and the smaller Bremerhaven, around 463,000 people were called to vote. The once rich Hanseatic city of Bremen, with its tradition of seafarers and merchants, has endured severe structural change and is now heavily indebted. According to the Federal Statistical Office, the proportion of recipients of citizen income, formerly known as Hartz IV, is the highest in a comparison of the federal states at 17.1 percent, and Bremen is also in last place in the ranking of the best education systems according to the INSM Education Monitor 2022.

According to the Bremen social department, the state has the highest proportion of people with a migration background among those eligible to vote at 17.8 percent – the national average is 11.5 percent. But the country is also a strong business location – with its ports, the world’s second largest Mercedes plant and aerospace companies.

FDP looked to Bremen with excitement

In federal politics, the FDP in particular had looked spellbound to Bremen, because they had to cope with a real series of defeats in the federal states since the 2021 federal elections. This has greatly stimulated the mood in the Berlin traffic light coalition.

The quarrels about personnel policy and the heating law from Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) now felt his party in Bremen. On the left, the Bremen election should be seen as a welcome change from the ongoing crisis in the federal party.

Traditionally, Bremen is not a home game for the CDU – the federal government is therefore more concerned with the upcoming autumn elections in Bavaria and Hesse. Then almost a quarter of those eligible to vote in Germany will be called to vote.

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