Decline in Voters for the CSU in Bavaria
Moreover, the Union also received more than 820,000 fewer votes in Bavaria than it did in 2002, which is more than a 20 percent decline. Thus, the Union lost as many votes in Bavaria as it did in all of the other “old” federal states [former West Germany] combined, where the CDU lost 813,000 votes. In the third electoral region, the “new” federal states [i.e., former East Germany], the CDU received 205,000 fewer votes, a decline of eight percent.
The two mainstream parties were the losers in this election; the FDP and the new Left Party were the winners. The FDP was strengthened primarily by “borrowed votes” from the Union camp. But the Liberals were also chosen by a segment of tactical voters who remain undecided until shortly before the election. This group of tactical voters deliberately supported the FDP so that it could have a correcting influence in the event of a coalition with the Union.
Of the nearly 4.1 million people who voted for the new left-wing alliance between the PDS [Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus or Party of Democratic Socialism] and the WASG [Wahlalternative Arbeit und soziale Gerechtigkeit or Labor and Social Justice Electoral Alternative], 54 percent came from the Eastern part of the country (2.2 million) and 46 percent from the West (almost 1.9 million). The increase, however, was larger in the West (+1.4 million votes) than the East, where the Left Party gained almost 770,000 votes. Nonetheless, despite the electoral success of the Left, it is unclear whether this new agglomeration will be able to establish itself on the party spectrum on a long-term basis, since the vastly different composition of party supporters in East and West could prove challenging.
NPD Just Misses the Five-Percent Mark in Saxony
On a national level, the right-wing extremist NPD [Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands or National Democratic Party of Germany] didn’t play a role in this Bundestag election. However, the NPD’s share of the vote varies considerably from region to region. The NPD received only 0.8 percent of valid votes in North Rhine-Westphalia, and 1.3 percent in Bavaria. But it got an average of 3.6 percent in the new federal states, and, in the Free State of Saxony, the NPD almost cleared the five-percent hurdle with 4.9 percent. Thus, in the East, the Left Party was not able to capture some of the protest vote from the right, as Oskar Lafontaine and Gregor Gysi claimed it could; instead, a pool of genuine right-wing extremist voters became visible.
Whether the mainstream parties will continue to experience a decline in significance after this election, whether the party spectrum will be further differentiated by the presence of the new Left Party, and whether the pool of potential right-wing extremist voters will be able to expand from the East to the entire country will depend not least on how the new government coalition will govern the country.”
* Parties winning at least 5 percent of the vote are represented in the parliament – trans.
Source: “Weiterer Bedeutungsverlust für die beiden großen Parteien. Forsa-Analyse der Bundestagswahl vom Sonntag” [“Continued Decline in Significance for the Two Mainstream Parties; Forsa Institute Analysis of the Bundestag Election on Sunday”], Associated Press, September 19, 2005.
Translation: Allison Brown