The CDU achieved an astonishing election victory. Rainer Haseloff himself seems baffled by this. Mainly because the voters in Saxony-Anhalt mostly act according to the principle of reward and punishment.
Saxony-Anhalt is a lucky bag. You never know what will happen when this small country in the middle of Germany votes. Voters are tougher than anywhere else on the principle of reward and punishment. The Prime Minister can never be sure whether he will crash or shoot up. It was no coincidence that Reiner Haseloff looked more tired than happy after his election victory. Like someone who feared the worst and is now too exhausted to look forward to.
All parties, from the SPD to the Greens to the Left and AfD, have ceded voters to the CDU. This fermented bunch of around 6,000 Christian Democrats, in which not a few party friends ramble about the reconciliation of the social with the national and cannot be distinguished from the AfD with the naked eye, was almost catapulted into the high sphere of a people’s party. More paradoxically, elections are rare.
Mistrust between politics and the population
Before state elections, the West always looks to the East with wide eyes and expects evil. The assumptions he makes are seldom enlightening. They regularly end in expressions of mourning for the democratic deficit as a legacy of the GDR. Shortly before the election, Marco Wanderwitz, who was hired by the federal government as the commissioner for the East, said parts of the eastern population were lost to democracy.
Wanderwitz might know, he comes from Chemnitz. He belongs to the CDU. Is he right? Actually not, if you take this choice seriously, in which the gap to the AfD has grown to around 16 percentage points. It is interesting, however, how much distrust the exponents of the ruling CDU party have towards the electorate.
You trust him to do everything. You have experience with him. The message from the voters is almost always: in us you have no one to build on. Why is that? Attempt to approach on three points.
1. Elections in Saxony-Anhalt are like shifting dunes. Nobody knows where they are going.
The loyalty of voters in the East was weak from the start. In the beginning, voters expected the most from the CDU and Chancellor Kohl. So they elected its governor twice in a row in the post-reunification period. When unemployment exploded, the SPD came to power, which was soon punished. Now the left flourished as a suggestion box for those who had lost their way from the lost GDR, who had imagined everything differently. After this phase, it was the turn of the AfD. She is the right suggestion box for the big against and speaks almost as sensitively about the suffering of the East as the left that has become useless.
2. Good economic development
If you take a neutral view of the election result, you might think that the Haseloff government has been rewarded for its good work. There are enough reasons for this: In 2005 unemployment was a pitiful 20.2 percent, today it is 7.5 as in North Rhine-Westphalia. In addition, the small country has had the best economic development of all federal states since last year. With a population of around 2.2 million, it is in surprisingly good shape economically. However, the election campaign was not about facts. It was first and last about the AfD and the CDU’s highly ambivalent relationship to it.
3. Those who stayed at home build walls
One of the much-cited fractures and fractures that can be seen in Saxony-Anhalt is shrinkage. According to Eurostat, 2.965 million people lived here in 1990. Since then, around 700,000 have left for the West, where else to go. A loss that inevitably has a social and mental impact. If the agile, who are not afraid of new beginnings, simply set off, those who stayed at home must at least justify themselves to themselves. They then build walls: against the elite from the West, against the EU, against foreigners and refugees. The AfD is involved in the construction of the wall, but parts of the left and the CDU are also involved.
Saxony-Anhalt is not a particularly good mood test for the federal election. The country is too small and not significant enough for that. Still, it will be talked up into a symbol for a few days, that’s the way it is. Then the holidays come and then it will start, the fight for a federal election with great peculiarities.