The Christian Social Union (CSU) “has dominated Bavarian politics for six decades”, says Jon Henley in The Guardian. The party, which operates only in Bavaria and is the sister party of chancellor Angela Merkel’s nationwide Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has won absolute majorities in 12 of the past 13 state-level elections.
But on Sunday, the CSU suffered huge losses, seeing its vote slump by more than ten percentage points. The centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) – which is in coalition with the CDU and CSU in the national parliament – also saw its vote halve. The big winners were the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which will enter the state parliament for the first time, and the “EU-loving, refugee-welcoming Greens”, who doubled their share.
This result “has made the premature end of Merkel’s governing coalition much more likely”, says Christian Teevs in Der Spiegel. It shows “how fragile the major parties’ foundations have become”. Combined, the CDU, CSU and SPD only have “a razor-thin majority in recent nationwide polls”.
If Merkel goes, this could be bad news, since she “remains Europe’s indispensable leader” says Bloomberg. Even if she stays, a diminished chancellor “bodes ill for the west”. Liberal democracy is “in retreat worldwide” while the European Union is “challenged by an erratic American partner and rising right-wing populism in Italy, Hungary and Poland, as well as in Germany itself”. It must be hoped that she can “stop the rot” since “a divided, leaderless government in Berlin is the last thing Germany, or Europe, needs”.