Public access radio that connects community members to one another and the world
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Join KDNK for the Solstice Songwriter Session in the KDNK Gardens on June 20th at 6pm

In German Regional Elections, Merkel's Allies Falter


German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her supporters took a political hit in elections yesterday in Bavaria. It was called a protest vote by a lot of German political observers. And it was to the benefit of the far-right Alternative for Germany party, which will enter the Bavarian parliament for the first time. The real winner, though, in these elections came as a surprise. Here's NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson from Berlin.

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: The big winner in Bavaria on Sunday was the left-leaning environmentally friendly Green party, which came in second place. Political observers say the unexpected result showed that the decision by Merkel's conservatives to move further right this past year backfired. Some analysts also predict that Merkel's sister party, the Christian Social Union or CSU, might now try and partner with the environmentalists to govern Bavaria.

The CSU, despite its poor showing, was the highest vote getter but lost majority control. Ingolstadt legislator-elect Stephanie Kuerten told NPR she has doubts about whether her Green party would end up in a Bavarian coalition with the Christian conservatives.

STEPHANIE KUERTEN: (Speaking German).

NELSON: "If the CSU can manage it, they'll avoid talking to us at all. And in any event, we won't be part of a coalition just for the sake of governing." She quipped, "I think the opposition bench is pretty comfortable too."

Merkel's other coalition partner, the center-left Social Democrats, also suffered a devastating loss in Bavaria, scoring just under 10 percent of the vote.


ANDREA NAHLES: (Speaking German).

NELSON: Andrea Nahles called the result bitter and blamed the poor performance in Bavaria on squabbling within the Merkel-led government in Berlin. There's talk her Social Democratic Party might pull out of the government, which would likely mean Merkel would have to quit. That prospect is welcomed by Alternative for Germany.


ALICE WEIDEL: (Speaking German).

NELSON: The far-right group’s parliamentary co-chair, Alice Weidel, said the Bavarian vote showed that Merkel must go. As to what the chancellor's Bavarian sister party plans to do is unclear.


HORST SEEHOFER: (Speaking German).

NELSON: German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, the leader of the CSU, says his party would, quote, "draw the necessary consequences from the poor results." Disputes between him and Merkel over how to control Germany's border following the refugee crisis almost led to the collapse of their fragile coalition earlier this year. Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Berlin.

(SOUNDBITE OF HIDDEN ORCHESTRA'S "STONE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Special correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is based in Berlin. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and read at From 2012 until 2018 Nelson was NPR's bureau chief in Berlin. She won the ICFJ 2017 Excellence in International Reporting Award for her work in Central and Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.