wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09FRANKFURT167
2009-01-20 11:15:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Consulate Frankfurt
Cable title:  

Hesse Election: CDU Stays on with FDP's Help, SPD in

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  GM 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO0575
OO RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHLZ
DE RUEHFT #0167/01 0201115
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 201115Z JAN 09
FM AMCONSUL FRANKFURT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9343
INFO RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 FRANKFURT 000167 

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/AGS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL GM
SUBJECT: Hesse Election: CDU Stays on with FDP's Help, SPD in
Freefall

REF: Frankfurt 0025

Sensitive but unclassified; not for internet distribution.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 FRANKFURT 000167

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/AGS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL GM
SUBJECT: Hesse Election: CDU Stays on with FDP's Help, SPD in
Freefall

REF: Frankfurt 0025

Sensitive but unclassified; not for internet distribution.


1. Summary: The CDU gained only a marginal victory out of the SPD's
disastrous loss in the Hesse election as swing voters gravitated
toward smaller parties. CDU Minister President Roland Koch will
stay on, but must now share power with the FDP. The CDU-FDP
government will also end the Grand Coalition's majority in the
Bundesrat, forcing the national government to pay more attention to
the concerns of the FDP. National SPD leaders attempted to diminish
the wider significance of the local debacle, where the party
alienated voters through its failed attempts to govern with the help
of the Left Party. End Summary.

CDU Back in Business
--------------


2. In the January 18 Hesse election, the Christian Democratic Union
(CDU) came out ahead with 37.2% of the vote (up 0.4% from the
January 2008 election), followed by the Social Democratic Party
(SPD) with 23.7% (down 13%), the Free Democratic Party (FDP) with
16.2% (up 6.8 %), the Greens with 13.7% (up 6.2 %) and the Left
Party with 5.4% (up 0.3 %). Voter turnout was 61%, a historic low
and 3.3% less than in 2008. A senior aide to CDU Minister President
Roland Koch told Pol Off that he expects CDU-FDP coalition talks to
be concluded before the first session of the new parliament on
February 5, although the FDP is now likely to demand three
ministries instead of two with its better than expected result. The
new coalition will end the CDU's caretaker government, which stayed
on in power after the previous election yielded no new government.


3. The CDU's failure to gain ground was the surprise of the night
as recent polls had all indicated the party would do 3-4% better
than it did, but those gains instead went to the FDP and Greens.
The often polarizing and outspoken Koch, who has been Minister
President since 1999, ran an uncharacteristically subdued campaign
promoting his party's competency in difficult economic times, but
failed to capitalize on the SPD's loss. There are unsubstantiated
rumors that Koch will move up to the federal level as Economics or
Finance Minister should the CDU remain in the government after the
September election, but Koch has so far expressed a desire to remain

Hesse's Minister President.

FDP Riding High
--------------


4. A CDU-FDP coalition in Hesse will end the Grand Coalition's
current majority in the federal upper chamber of parliament, the
Bundesrat, as the CDU will now have to share Hesse's five votes with
the FDP. The FDP will gain a blocking minority, but national FDP
Chairman Guido Westerwelle was quick to say that his party would
"play a constructive role in the Bundesrat." He has called for
closer consultation with Chancellor Merkel on the FDP's concerns.
The party may look to implement changes in the federal government's
second fiscal stimulus package, which has not yet passed in either
chamber. Having also entered the government in Bavaria, the FDP now
has two early successes to build on. The FDP's win also gives
Federal President Horst Koehler the necessary votes in the Federal
Assembly to be reelected this year.

SPD Searches for the Bottom
--------------


5. The SPD's showing was its worst in the state in the post-war era
and an epic collapse from its near win one year ago. Voters voiced
clear dissatisfaction with the party which unsuccessfully attempted
to unseat Koch's caretaker government twice in the last year by
forming a minority government with the Greens supported by the Left
Party. After being stymied by dissent from its own members, the SPD
reluctantly voted with the other parties for a new election. The
SPD ran a doomed campaign, unable to distance itself from
Chairperson Andrea Ypsilanti's controversial choice to work with the
Left Party. Ypsilanti resigned as chairperson and caucus chief on
election night, all but ending her political career.


6. Both the Greens and the Left Party emerged from the controversy
much better off: the Greens attracted former SPD voters, and the
Left cemented its presence in Hesse by entering the parliament for a
second time. National SPD Chairman Franz Muentefering said the
result was "no index for anything on the national level." However,
the national party's similarly low poll numbers suggest that the
same tension between its left and conservative wings over issues
such as how to deal with the Left Party remains a concern for
voters.


7. Comment: While high in drama, the election in Hesse was only a
minimal boost for the CDU at the start of Germany's super-election
year. Local concerns such as Koch's divisive personality and
Ypsilanti's failed power grab appeared to play the decisive role in

FRANKFURT 00000167 002 OF 002


the mind of voters, rather than national issues. While the SPD
faces a much tougher road ahead in the national campaign, the CDU is
also not certain that it will be able to end the Grand Coalition and
govern with the FDP after the federal election.


8. This cable was coordinated with Embassy Berlin.
POWELL