From my state of Hessen (here in Germany), city elections were yesterday. Typically, they don't matter that much and it's not worth discussing. This particular, was different.
By 9PM last night, it was apparent that serious consequences had come upon both the CDU Party (Merkel's group), and the SPD (the coalition partner at the national level with the CDU). Both had lost serious ground to AfD (the anti-immigration crowd).
As you go city by city.....it's a pretty surprising win.
Wiesbaden, AfD took 16-percent of the city vote.....taking 9-percent off the CDU and 4-percent from the SPD.
Darmstadt, AfD took 12-percent of the city vote.....taking equal amounts of 6-percent from the CDU and the SPD.
Bensheim, AfD took 17-percent of the city vote....taking 6-percent each from the CDU and SPD, and even the Greens lost almost 9-percent of their previous vote.
Frankfurt, AfD took 10-percent.
From the vast number of cities and counties.....AfD didn't run a campaign or mount any effort. There's only about twenty that they stood and put a front up against the normal parties. In those twenty areas? They got 10-percent or better in every single case. In Bad Karlshafen, to the far northeast of the state....they actually got 22-percent of the vote.
Shocker? You could tell that the regional state-run TV analysts were having some issues in explaining this.
Voter turn-out for a city-type election didn't go that high. Here in Wiesbaden, they only had 43-percent of the registered voters show up for a Sunday election. If you look at the map, cities and counties to the north of Hessen had better numbers (nearer to 60-percent of a turn-out).
If you look at the total voting situation for the whole state....AfD took around 13-percent of the vote, and probably would have done better if they'd run in more towns. Both the SPD and CDU lost numbers (8-percent between the two of them). Surprisingly, even the Greens lost support (6-percent).
At one point, the HR analyst was interviewing some SPD political player and noting this AfD win and how this would work out in the local city hall and city council situation. The gal stood there and smugly said that AfD would have to learn how to be civil and develop new skills. I sat there laughing....the public is sending a message across about immigration and refugees, and obviously....the message wasn't getting across.
What's next? Well, this gets to an interesting situation on Sunday of next week.....when state elections occur in three states. Presently, the poll people are trending AfD at around 10-percent in one state, and 15-to-18 percent in the other two states. The poll guys will probably go back and figure that some SPD and CDU voters have been saying they'd stick with their party in the vote, and it's obviously not the whole truth.
For Saxony-Anhalt, there's little doubt that AfD will cross the 20-percent point, and both the SPD and CDU will be seriously damaged by this state election.
There's been extensive chatter from the SPD that if they lose badly in the three state elections....the head of the SPD....Gabriel.....will retire. Someone else stepping up to the plate? Unless there is some new focus on immigration and asylum, this new person will last until the end of the year....and they will be 'fired' as the next two state elections occur.
In the end, my observation would be that consequences matter. If you dig up fake-talk and use the news media to form some false agenda that has issues.....the public will eventually wake up and ask questions. If you don't answer them right.....they vote you out. That is precisely what 6 March in Hessen was about, and next week's three state elections will prove that point. I certainly won't say that the AfD solution is the right one.....but so far....no other party seems willing to admit the immigration issue is bad enough to deserve a new focus and direction.