The Extremes Made Gains in Bavaria, but Germany’s Political Center Isn’t Dead Yet

The Extremes Made Gains in Bavaria, but Germany’s Political Center Isn’t Dead Yet
Robert Habeck, center, and Anton Hofreiter, right, leaders of the Greens, celebrate the results of the Bavaria state elections, Munich, Germany, Oct. 14, 2018 (AP photo by Kerstin Joensson).

While much has been made of the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD, party, it was the left-wing Greens that recorded the biggest gains in last week’s state elections in Bavaria. By winning more than 17 percent of the vote, the Greens nearly doubled their total from Bavaria’s last elections in 2013 and will enter the new state parliament as the second-largest bloc.

Their success amid the ongoing collapse of Germany’s political center was a sign that across the spectrum, and not only on the right, voters are beginning to harden around the political extremes. If that trend continues, the question for the Greens is whether they will sustain their momentum through a series of upcoming state elections to truly transform themselves into a national alternative to the AfD. There were also some indications out of Bavaria that the political center isn’t totally disappearing—just its traditional representatives are.

Bavaria has long been dominated by the center-right Christian Social Union, or CSU, the sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, or CDU, and a member of the national governing coalition that was formed following last year’s federal elections. Like every party in that centrist coalition—which also includes the center-left Social Democrats, or SPD— the CSU has seen its fortunes plummet. A party that has consistently returned absolute majorities in Bavarian state elections pulled in less than 40 percent of last week’s vote.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.