Elections in Lower Saxony and Hessen02 Feb 2003
Five years ago, the local elections in Lower Saxony were a resounding landslide for Gerhard Schröder, his crowning as the Chancellor candidate who would eventually defeat Helmut Kohl. Today, the election was a resounding defeat for his successor and protégé Sigmar Gabriel, and a victory for Christian Wulff, the quiet CDU leader who twice lost to Schröder. As a resident of Lower Saxony, I can certainly live with a Premier Wulff.
The CDU has, as expected, won historic victories in Landtag elections Lower Saxony and in Hessen. The Union has over 48% in both states, and may have absolute majorities in one if not both local parliaments. The SPD suffered huge losses, at or near post-war lows. Greens and FDP gained in both states.
Schröder tried to play the Iraq card (he announced his 'no' in the UN Security Council at a campaign rally in Goslar), but voters didn't buy it. For one, the card has been already played, and for another, voters are smart enough to know that foreign policy is made in Berlin, not in Hannover and Wiesbaden.
I disagree with Ralf Goergens that this is the beginning of the end for Schröder. The Bundestag elections are too fresh, and the leftists in the SPD have no alternative. I'm afraid the only way to get rid of Schröder is at the polls in 2006.