22 August 2008

Election Time

On Sunday 28 September Bavaria goes to the polls to elect a new state parliament. At the last election in 2003 the Christlich Soziale Union (CSU), a Conservative sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christlich Demokratischen Union (CDU), consolidated its already iron grip on Bavarian politics by taking 60.7% of the vote and claiming 124 of the 180 seats.

Since then, however, the CSU has run into some difficulties. At the local elections in March 2008 the party only managed 40%, while the Sozialdemokratischen Partei Deutschlands (SPD), strengthened its position in Bavaria's two biggest cities - Munich and Nuremburg. Recent opinion polls suggest the CSU's share of the vote might drop below 50%.

In theory the beneficiary of this collapse in support for the CSU should be the SPD, which currently has 41 seats in the Bavarian parliament. That party, however, has its own difficulties. Disaffected members from the left of the party have made common cause with other left wing groups and have formed a new party, Die Linke.

Left-wing voters are thin on the ground in Bavaria, so, unlike in other state elections, the SPD's problem will not be in losing their core voters to Die Linke, but in persuading Bavaria's conservative voters that the party represents a viable - and safe - alternative to the CSU.

The only other party represented in the Bavarian parliament is Bündis 90/Die Grünen - the Greens. The party has 15 seats in parliament and runs the Munich city government in coalition with the SPD.

There are a number of other parties contesting the election that are not currently represented in the Bavarian parliament:
and, I'm sure, others I am not yet aware of.

Since I'm not really sure what the key issues are I'm forming my impressions on the basis of the poster campaign. Die Linke has the worst poster; Die Grünen have the best. Not the best basis on which to form a political opinion, I admit. But, then again, probably no less irrational than many others.

Below is a sample of posters currently on display across the city. I notice that I do not have the Die Linke poster. In the interests of political neutrality I shall track one down and add it to the collection as soon as possible.

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