On Sunday, September 27th, there are national elections in Germany. This election will decide whether Angela Merkel (Christian Democrats) can continue as Chancellor for a 2nd term, or if her challanger, Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Social Democrats) will succeed her. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and her challenger, Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) Since 2005, Merkel (CDU) is governing in a "great coalition" of conservative CDU/CSU and center-left SPD, since her favorite conservative-libertarian coalition of CDU/CSU and libertarian FDP did not reach a majority (neither did former Chancellor Schröder's center-left SPD-Green coalition a majority, and because of that stalemate, the "great coalition" of both major parties from right and left was formed). The parties in the current parliament elected 2005: Because of this "great coalition", the three small parties form the opposition: Libertarian FDP, center-left Green Party (B'90/Greens) and socialist-populist Left Party. In the upcoming election, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) is hoping to win a majority for a center-right coalition of her CDU/CSU and the libertarian FDP once again -- thus pushing the center-left SPD into the opposition. Current polls look good for Angela Merkel (CDU): It seems to be certain her conservative CDU/CSU will be much stronger than Vice Chancellor Steinmeier's center-left SPD, which is expected to gain the worst result ever since the foundation of the Federal Republic in 1949, down to levels of the Weimar Republic: All polling institutes see a majority for a center-right coalition of conservative CDU/CSU and libertarian FDP -- while the center-left SPD is down to between 20% and 25% of the votes. It seems very certain now Merkel will win a 2nd term, the only remaining question is whether she will need the SPD again as junior partner for another "great coalition", or whether she can govern in her favorite CDU/CSU-FDP coalition. But last Sunday, August 30th, there were elections in three German states: Saxony, Thuringia and Saarland. And surprisingly, Merkel's conservative CDU/CSU lost her majority in two out of these three states: Saxony: Conservative CDU wins a thin majority for a conservative-libertarian coalition -- neo-Nazi NPD narrowly re-enters parliament for a 2nd term with 5.6% As you can see, conservative CDU (black) and libertarian FDP (yellow) together reach a majority of more than 50% in order to form a center-right coalition. Unfortunately, for the shame of Germany, the neo-Nazi party once again manages to jump above the 5% hurdle necessary to win seats in the parliament for a 2nd term in a row -- on the plus side, it lost votes and now is down from 9.2% in 2004 to 5.6% only. Thuringia: Conservative CDU loses majority -- Majority for left-wing coalition of socialist Left Party, center-left SPD and Green Party -- neo-Nazi NPD fails to enter parliament at 4.3% only The result in Thuringia is a bad sign for Chancellor Merkel (CDU): Her conservative CDU, which has been governing this state alone for the past 9 years, has clearly lost its majority and now is at 31.2% only. The problem for the center-left SPD: The socialist-populist Left Party has scored a stronger result than the SPD, and thus claims the office of Prime Minister in a Left Party-SPD-Green coalition. But SPD top candidate Matschie has sworn not to elect a Left Party member into this office. Because of this, there will be hard negotiations and a poker game between the SPD and Left Party in the next weeks -- either the Left Party agrees on a coalition with the SPD while electing Matschie Prime Minister (which would be unusual, since usually, the strongest party within a coalition gets this office), or Matschie will prefer to lead his SPD into a "great coalition" with the CDU as junior partner. There is no possibility for a so-called "Jamaica coalition" of conservative CDU, libertarian FDP and Green Party, although it's mathematically possible, because the Greens ruled out such a coalition in the first place. On the plus side, the neo-Nazi party NPD failed to enter the Thuringian parliament: With 4.3% of the votes only, it did not manage to jump above the 5% hurdle necessary to win seats. In the campaign, this party had run an obviously racist campaign against a black CDU member of Angolan descent, by suggesting him "to move back home" repeatedly. Saarland: Conservative CDU loses majority -- Majority for a left-wing coalition of SPD, Left Party and Green Party Again a defeat for Merkel's CDU: As in Thuringia, the CDU, which has been governing Saarland since 1999, loses its majority in Saarland too, down to 34.5%. The socialist-populist Left Party has scored an unusually strong result for a West German state, because of the popularity of former Saarland Prime Minister Oskar Lafontaine, who now is Left Party chairman -- but the Left Party is not stronger than the SPD, which is slightly ahead. This opens the door for a possible left-wing coalition of SPD, Left Party and Green Party. But the Green Party, although weak with 5.9% only, now has the role of a "king maker": It will depend on their decision, whether they will join SPD and Left Party in a left-wing coalition, or join conservative CDU and libertarian FDP in a "Jamaica coalition" (which would be the first time ever such a coalition will be formed on state level). The Greens have signalled they are open for negotiations with both sides. If all these negotiations fail, there still is the possibility for a "great coalition" of CDU and SPD. As usual in West German states (Saarland is West German, while Saxony and Thuringia are East German), the neo-Nazi NPD does not play any significant role and does not even reach 0.3% of the votes. These three state level elections have implications for the national election in 4 weeks: Angela Merkel's conservative CDU's image as clear favorite has lost some of its energy, after losing its majority in two out of three states -- yet her challenger's center-left SPD did not profit from this new trend. Winners are the small parties, especially the socalitist-populist Left Party, which SPD candidate Steinmeier has sworn not to cooperate with on national level, the libertarian FDP which has almost doubled its results in all three states and the Green Party, which is in a crucial position for forming new coalitions now. If this has impact on the national election on September 27th remains to be seen.