The state elections just held on Sunday in Bavaria, Germany closed with a dramatic populist result as the ruling conservative CSU party (Christian Social Union) for the first time since 1962 failed to obtain an absolute majority of the Bavarian vote. Their 43.4% outcome was 17.3% below their result in the state elections five years ago.
As written in the German Spiegel Online International:
“The conservative Christian Social Union turned in its worst election result since 1954 in Bavarian state elections on Sunday. The ballot box collapse brings a decades-long political monopoly to an end — and may call Chancellor Angela Merkel’s re-election into question.“
The cause of the decline was not the exodus of voters to the traditional opponent of the CSU, the German Socialist Party (SPD), who themselves turned in their worst performance since the year 1945 with only 18.6% of the vote.
Rather, a great number of voters turned to alternative populist parties such as the FW (Freie Wähler, “Free Voters”), a conservative citizens’ coalition (it is not officially a political party) which, as written by the Spiegel Online International “came out of nowhere to get 10.2 percent.” See the political platform of the Free Voters here (only available in German language).
This development might be a cause for concern in some circles because it could indicate that a considerable percentage of the voter population in Germany might be suffering from some of the same symptoms currently that historically led to the collapse of the Weimar Republic and led to the rise of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (the Nazi Party), which began in the same populist manner under the name of the Free Committee for a German Workers’ Peace.
The Free Voters are capitalizing on the various political and economic problems (such as the banking crisis and affiliated world financial problems) which afflict – not only – modern-day Germany. The Free Voters are running on a populist platform whose main slogan is that the local community is the nucleus – literally germ cell – of the state (Die Kommune als Keimzelle des Staates), as if locally-centered politics could solve global problems, a myth which always seems attractive to unsophisticated voters.
A similar conservative populist result also occurred in the state elections in Austria.