2016 Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state election
All 71 seats of the Landtag of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
36 seats needed for a majority
The Mecklenburg-Vorpommern State Elections, 2016 were held on 4 September 2016, to elect members to the 7th Landtag of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. All 71 seats in the Landtag were contested and around 1.3 million voters were eligible to cast ballots. Postal voting began in August ahead of the September 4 polling day. State elections in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern use the Hare-Niemeyer method of proportional representation to allocate seats in the Landtag.
Campaign and issues
The governing grand coalition between the SPD and CDU was campaigning to defend its majority. Furthermore, the result of the right wing AfD party was eagerly awaited. During the campaign, its frontrunner, Leif-Erik Holm, warned of the "spread of Islam". The party hoped to be the strongest political force after the elections.
Asked for the most important issues, Forschungsgruppe Wahlen/Politbarometer pollees ranked "unemployment" on first place (38%), followed by "refugees/asylum" (25%) and "school/education" (12%). Incumbent Erwin Sellering (64%) was far more popular as a candidate for Minister President than the CDU candidate Lorenz Caffier (18%). In an infratest dimap poll, however, 34% named "refugees/migration" as the top issue, followed by "social justice" (27%) and "labor and economy" (20%).
During the final days of the state election campaign, Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has her constituency for the federal elections in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and spoke in support of CDU candidate Caffier, hardened her tone against immigrants and spoke in favor of deporting more of them, using the word "Rückführung" (repatriation) instead of "Abschiebung" (deportation) – though deportations are difficult to realize amid laws and international relations to the immigrants' home countries. On 1 September, Merkel for the first time admitted mistakes in her refugee policies, but only such that had been made years ago in 2004/05. According to Die Zeit, some saw a turn in her policies of Willkommenskultur and presumed "angst" in the Chancellor's office.
But in general, during the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern campaign, Merkel defended her refugee policies and the dictum "Wir schaffen das" ("We'll manage it"), saying she would have done everything again as she did the previous year. CDU candidate Caffier demanded prohibition of the burqa – even if there are hardly any women wearing a burqa in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern –, more police officers and more development of the rural areas. At the same time, SPD Minister President and frontrunner Erwin Sellering distanced himself from Merkel's refugee policies and demanded more respect for the life-time achievements of the East German people. Sellering e.g. stated: "It must not be, that our people are suffering, because the refugees are there." On 2 September, Sellering said on the nationwide ZDF channel, Merkel was responsible for the popularity of the AfD in the state: "The people who can imagine to elect the AfD, are clearly concerned about the refugee policies of the chancellor."
Latest polls saw the AfD at 21–23 percent, intermittently threatening the majority of governing SPD of Minister President Erwin Sellering, though the SPD seemed strengthened in the mid-August polls. Also the CDU came in before the SPD in some polls; however, the results of both parties were predicted to be weaker compared to the last elections in 2011. Latest polls showed a significant loss for The Left. On 31 August 2016, an INSA poll not only saw the AfD ahead of the CDU for the first time, also the governing CDU/SPD coalition could fall short of a majority.
|Forschungsgruppe Wahlen/Politbarometer||1 September 2016||22%||28%||22%||3%||6%||13%||-||6%|
|INSA||31 August 2016||20%||28%||23%||2%||6%||15%||2%||4%|
|Forschungsgruppe Wahlen/Politbarometer||26 August 2016||22%||28%||21%||-||6%||13%||3%||7%|
|Infratest dimap||25 August 2016||22%||27%||21%||3%||5%||14%||3%||5%|
|Infratest dimap||18 August 2016||23%||26%||19%||3%||6%||16%||3%||4%|
|INSA||12 August 2016||23%||24%||19%||3%||6%||19%||3%||3%|
|Infratest dimap||30 June 2016||25%||22%||19%||3%||7%||17%||4%||3%|
|Infratest dimap||28 April 2016||24%||22%||18%||4%||8%||16%||4%||4%|
|INSA||16 February 2016||29%||22%||16%||4%||5%||19%||4%||1%|
|Marktforschungsservice Dukath||21 January 2016||27.2%||28.4%||5.5%||8.0%||9.5%||20.1%||1.3%||0.2%|
Final results showed the SPD with 30.6% of the vote, AfD in second with 20.8%, CDU in third with 19.0%, and Die Linke in fourth with 13.2%. These parties would all have representatives in the Landtag. The Greens, NPD and FDP, who had previously had representation, all scored below 5%, and so did not qualify for a seat in the Landtag. This left the SPD as the biggest party, but without a majority and opened the way to continuing a coalition with the CDU, or a new "Red-Red" coalition with Die Linke. The latter, however, would only have a majority of 2 seats in the Landtag, and would be commensurately less likely.
|Social Democratic Party of Germany
Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands – SPD
|Alternative for Germany
Alternative für Deutschland – AfD
|Christian Democratic Union
Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands – CDU
|Alliance '90/The Greens
Bündnis 90/Die Grünen
|Free Democratic Party
Freie Demokratische Partei – FDP
|National Democratic Party of Germany
Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands – NPD
|Animal Protection Party
Partei für Arbeit, Rechtstaat, Tierschutz, Elitenförderung und basisdemokratische Initiative
|Free Voters Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
|Totals and voter turnout||821,645||61.6%||10.1||71|
Minister President Sellering stated that he wants to lead exploratory talks with both the CDU and The Left.
On 5 September, Chancellor Angela Merkel took part of the responsibility for the CDU result in the elections. "I am the party leader, I am the chancellor — you can't separate those in people's eyes, so I am of course responsible too" for the result, she stated at a press conference at the G20 summit in China. Again she defended her decisions regarding refugee policies, saying they were "right". She also noted that federal and refugee policies had "superimposed" "everything" during the election campaign. Merkel faced not only increasing criticism of the CSU party after the elections, also AfD leader Frauke Petry criticised Merkel: "This ignorance is exemplary," she said. "It is not just ignorance. What we see here is the continuing arrogance of power." Also critics within the CDU party commented on the result. Specialist for domestic affairs Wolfgang Bosbach called the election day a "historic date", because the AfD came in before the CDU and the CDU was only third political force in a German territorial state. He demanded an alteration of the refugee policies, but saw no alternative for Merkel as the chancellor. SPD chief Sigmar Gabriel accused Angela Merkel of "simply repeating 'we will manage it' without doing it as well." Green party chief Cem Özdemir said that the persistent dispute within the Grand Coalition in Berlin had been "grist to the mill" of the AfD. The Left chairman Bernd Riexinger criticised the CDU and SPD on the grounds that they had "embraced" the positions of the AfD during the election campaign.
- "German anti-immigrant party poised for big gains in Merkel's home state". Reuters. 4 September 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
- "Der Mann, der die AfD vom Schmuddelimage befreien will". Die Welt (in German). 26 August 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
- "SPD festigt Spitzenplatz in Umfragen". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). 26 August 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
- Wahlumfrage: SPD zieht an CDU vorbei, Ndr.de, 19 August 2016, in German
- Merkel in der Angstfalle, Die Zeit, 2 September 2016, in German
- Angela Merkel und die CDU vor dem AfD-Desaster, Der Tagesspiegel, 2 September 2016, in German
- AfD rückt an die CDU heran, Handelsblatt, 2 September 2016, in German]
- Wahlrecht.de - Sonntagsfrage Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
- Wahlumfrage MV: CDU vor SPD, AfD stark, Ndr.de, in German
- Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: Linke rutscht in Umfragen ab, Der Spiegel, 26 August 2016, in German
- AfD in Umfrage erstmals vor CDU, Frankfurter Allgemeine, 31 August 2016, in German
- "Vorläufiges Ergebnis Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Wahl zum Landtag von Mecklenburg-Vorpommern am 4. September 2016" (in German). Landeswahlleiterin Sachsen-Anhalt. 4 September 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
- Sellering will mit CDU und Linken verhandeln, Deutschlandfunk, 5 September 2016, in German
- Merkel Takes Blame for German Vote Defeat, but Holds Course, New York Times, 5 September 2016
- "Historisches Datum, wenn CDU hinter AfD landet", Die Welt, 5 September 2016, in German