Mainz / Stuttgart (dpa) – The state elections in Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate started cautiously this Sunday. The polling stations in both countries have been open since 8 a.m. However, the crowds were manageable until noon.
“Due to the high number of voters by mail, it has been very quiet in the polling stations so far,” said the regional returning officer in Rhineland-Palatinate. In total, however, more than half of the 3.1 million eligible voters had cast their votes before Sunday afternoon. According to the Regional Returning Officer, the turnout, including postal voters, was 52 percent by noon. Samples in selected municipalities would have resulted in an urn voter share of 7.5 percent by noon. Another 44.5 percent have already voted by letter. In the state elections in 2016, the total turnout was 70.4 percent.
A similar picture occurs in Baden-Württemberg. Due to the high number of voters per post, significantly fewer people went to the polling station. After a representative turnout in the polling stations for the state elections at 2 p.m., a decrease of 15.9 percentage points compared to 2016 was recorded at the same time (35.5 percent). State official Cornelia Nesch explained this with the expected increase in the number of postal voters as a result of the pandemic. In the selected representative constituencies, 36 percent of all eligible voters asked for postal votes. 7.7 million people from Baden-Württemberg are called to vote.
Due to the corona pandemic, polling stations in Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate have special hygiene and distance rules. These include spacing, mask, plexiglass and disinfected pens.
The Prime Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, Malu Dreyer (SPD), was confident when she casts her vote in her hometown of Trier on Sunday morning. “But we won’t know exactly until tonight.” There is no atmosphere of change. In the latest polls, the SPD faced the Christian Democrats with their top candidate Christian Baldauf. Dreyer has been head of government since 2013 and has led the only traffic light coalition in a German state for the past five years. She would like to continue to rule with the Greens and the FDP. CDU party leader Baldauf, on the other hand, wants to replace the SPD with his party after 30 years in power. Neither the green top candidate Anne Spiegel, nor the top candidate of the liberals, Daniela Schmitt, entered the election campaign with a coalition statement.
In Baden-Württemberg, Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) and his wife Gerlinde went to vote in Laiz in the Sigmaringen district in the morning. According to surveys, the Greens are probably the strongest force, as in 2016. Your coalition partner, the CDU, is expected to suffer losses. It is uncertain whether the green-black governmental alliance will continue. The Greens could potentially form a traffic light coalition with the SPD and the FDP. According to surveys, a new edition of Green-Red is within reach, as is an entirely new coalition of the Greens and the FDP. Kretschmann had left open with whom he wanted to form a coalition, but the government had to be able to cooperate stably and reliably.
Even the election campaign turned out to be significantly different from normal. The corona restrictions have made an election campaign involving home visits, information booths and major events in halls and plazas impossible.
The two state elections mark the beginning of a super election year. Local elections will also take place in Hesse next Sunday. The composition of the new district councils, city and community parliaments and municipalities is voted for a period of five years. About 4.7 million men and women have the right to vote. This includes 423,000 EU foreigners.
The state parliaments of Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Berlin and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern will also be re-elected this year. In addition, the general elections will take place on September 26.