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Cablegate: Euro-Elections/Regional: Cdu Stays Strong, Greens

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 FRANKFURT 005178

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON PINR TBIO GM
SUBJECT: Euro-Elections/Regional: CDU Stays Strong, Greens
Make Surprising Gains

REF: FRANKFURT 4964

1. SUMMARY: In European elections in the four states of SW
Germany, the CDU remained the leading party but failed (as
expected) to reach its 1999 high-water mark, with a
particularly disappointing performance in Hesse. The SPD
suffered dramatic losses throughout the region, including
its worst results ever in Hesse and Baden-Wuerttemberg.
The clear winners were the Greens, who outran the SPD in
large cities including Frankfurt and Stuttgart. In
Freiburg, the Greens achieved their best result nationwide,
outpolling all other parties with 37 percent. The FDP
recaptured some of its former voters. Radical groups
(Republikaner, NPD) achieved only marginal results. END
SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- --
Baden-Wuerttemberg: SPD Suffers Historic Defeat
--------------------------------------------- --

2. In Baden-Wuerttemberg, the Social Democrats scored 20
percent (down seven points), their worst results in the
post-war era. B-W party head and Federal Interior Ministry
State Secretary Ute Vogt blamed national politics for the
party's "bitter defeat." B-W's Greens were clear winners
with statewide results of 14 percent (up five points). In
Freiburg, the Greens outpolled everyone, scoring 37
percent. The party also did well in Stuttgart, Heidelberg,
and Tuebingen, moving into second place after the CDU in
each city with results between 22 and 29 percent. The B-W
FDP managed to improve its 1999 mark from just shy of five
percent to seven percent. Minister-President Erwin
Teufel's Christian Democrats succeeded in defending their
leading position with 47 percent (a loss of four points
since their 1999 peak, but enough to secure a CDU absolute
majority under Landtag election rules). Teufel announced a
special party convention for February 12, 2005 to determine
the standard bearer for the 2006 state election and said he
will have decided by then whether to run again for
Minister-President or retire.

-----------------------------------
Hesse: Greens Beat SPD in Frankfurt
-----------------------------------

3. In Hesse, the SPD lost ten points, dropping to an
anemic 25 percent of the vote. The CDU also fared below
expectations with returns of 41 percent, a six-point drop
from its 1999 total. The party lost ground in its
strongholds of southern Hesse, including Minister-President
Roland Koch's hometown of Eschborn (near Frankfurt). Media
editorials blamed the CDU's relatively poor showing on
Koch's governing style. The FDP finished strongly with
eight percent (up four points), with gains apparently
coming at the expense of the CDU. Greens posted
extraordinary results, besting the SPD in Frankfurt (by
more than five points) and Darmstadt and matching the SPD
in other cities such as Wiesbaden (statewide, they polled
15 percent, a gain of six points). According to party
contacts, the Greens' strong showing in the region was due
to the popularity of standard-bearer Daniel Cohn-Bendit.
Voter turnout in Frankfurt reached an all-time low (40
percent).

--------------------------------------------- ------------
Rheinland-Pfalz: Christian Democrats Unexpectedly Strong
--------------------------------------------- ------------

4. Christian Democrats under Christoph Boehr polled
surprisingly well in Rheinland-Pfalz with 47 percent of the
vote, defying pre-election concerns over Boehr as a
candidate (reftel). The party's success prompted Boehr to
announce his candidacy against Kurt Beck for Minister-
President in 2006. The FDP and Greens also fared well,
improving their results by three and two points
respectively. As in other SW German states, the R-P Social
Democrats suffered severe losses (almost ten points),
dropping to 26 percent of the vote. Minister-President
Beck's personal popularity was unable to mitigate the SPD's
poor showing, and Beck himself called the results "more
than disappointing."

-----------------------------------
Saarland: Clear Victory for the CDU
-----------------------------------

5. Contrary to results in Saarland's concurrent communal
elections (septel), the CDU posted a clear victory in the
state's European contests. The party won 45 percent of the
vote (a drop of under one point), with the SPD receiving 30
percent (down 11 points), the Greens eight percent (up
three points), and the FDP just under 5 percent (up 3
points). Minister-President Peter Mueller (CDU), who faces
state elections in September, said the results were
encouraging. Social Democrat leader Heiko Maas (SPD)
expressed disappointment with his party's poor showing, but
pointed out that SPD results in Saarland were significantly
better than the national average.

-------
COMMENT
-------

6. Protest voters in SW Germany followed the national
trend of punishing the SPD for a lagging economy and the
sting of Agenda 2010 reforms while rewarding their Greens
party coalition partners. The Greens' decision to campaign
on a pan-European platform led by popular standard-bearer
Daniel Cohn-Bendit reaped substantial dividends. The FPD
picked up much of the CDU's lost ground, particularly in
Hesse. Radical anti-European parties including the
Republikaner and the NPD (Nationaldemokratische Partei
Deutschlands) failed to profit significantly from voter
dissatisfaction but remained a force in local elections
(septel). END COMMENT.

BODDE

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