There are two municipal elections in Germany for 2016: Hessen and Niedersachsen. The Hessen municipal election will be on the 6th of March. The Niedersachsen municipal election will be on the 11th of September.
Municipal elections determine the make-up of city councils and the direction of regional politics. To be honest....most people can name their local mayor, but beyond that? No one can usually name any member of the city council. They might know the general make-up of the council (more CDU than SPD or vice-versa).
There are five state elections in Germany for 2016: Sachsen-Anhalt, Baden-Wurttemberg, and the Pfalz (all occur on the 13th of March). Mecklenburg and Berlin are scheduled for the fall period (no real date set yet).
State elections usually tell a trend for the national situation.
Sachsen-Anhalt is a eastern state. Their make-up after the 2011 election was: 32-percent for the CDU, 23-percent for the Linke Party, 21-percent for the SPD, 7-percent for the Greens, 4-percent for the FDP, and almost 5-percent for the NPD. (note all election results come from Wiki)
There's a question mark over the trend for Sachsen-Anhalt for 2016. With anti-refugee feelings being discussed more in the eastern side of the country than the western side.....there's some belief that AfD Party (something that didn't exist in 2011) might come out and have more than 10-percent of the vote. A radical change coming out of this election? If the CDU loses 5-percent of their 2011 results and the Linke Party does a bit better....there might be a flip on who runs the state government. If the AfD folks were able to get 25-percent of the vote on strictly a anti-immigrant stand....it would create some frustrations in Berlin over bigger trends.
The Pfalz is a western state. Their make-up after the 2011 election was: 35.7-percent for the SPD, 35.2-percent for the CDU, 15-percent for the Greens, 4.2-percent for FDP, 3-percent for the Linke Party, and the rest for a number of minor parties.
The SPD and Greens run the state government. From the 2016 election, there's not likely to be a huge change.....but the AfD didn't exist in 2011's episode, and one has to wonder what their take in the 2016 election will be. If they were to get 15-percent on a anti-immigrant vote....it wouldn't be a big message.
Baden-Wurttemberg is a south central state. Their make-up after the 2011 election was: 39-percent for the CDU, 24.2-percent for the Greens, 23.1-percent for the SPD, 5.3-percent for the FDP, and 2.8-percent for the Linke Party. Note, the AfD Party wasn't around in 2011, so it's a new player for 2016.
The reason for the upswing for the Greens? Stuttgart-21 project.....plain and simple. Since no one stopped Stuttgart-21, there's a question mark for the 2016 election and if people will do another frustration vote or swing back to the SPD or FDP party.
Berlin is a eastern state. Their make-up after the 2011 election was: 28.3-percent for the SPD, 23.4-percent for the CDU. 17.6-percent for the Greens. 11.6-percent for the Linke Party. And 8.9-percent for the Pirate Party. Note again, the AfD Party was not around in 2011, so you can't really know their effect on the 2016 election.
Meckenburg is a eastern state. Their make-up after the 2011 election was: 35.7-percent for the SPD, 23-percent for the CDU, 18.4-percent for the Linke Party, 8.4-percent for Greens, and 6-percent for the NPD. Note again, the AfD Party was not around in 2011, so you can't really guess their effect on the 2016 election.
Generally, you can review the five results at the end of the year and question how the AfD Party factors into the national election of 2017. If AfD were to pick up twelve to fifteen percent of the eastern state elections, then it'd have an effect on the national election.....with a lot of work required by the CDU and SPD to downgrade the immigrant discussions.
The other potential factor is the Linke Party. They've had several years to take their message via TV chat forums and get some respect from the public. It's possible that some SPD voters are disenchanted with their candidates and theme.....and would shift their votres to the Linke Party to show frustrations.
The last minor factor is the NSA-internet discussions.....which the Pirate Party has hyped up. The Pirates usually only attract young voters, and their themes are mostly around technology and privacy. No one expects much of a change from the 2011 voting.....so a couple of percentage points up or down for the Pirates will count as something.
Do the state elections matter? It's a trend thing, and it shows where the 2017 national election is heading.