Merkel’s CDU and Greens can breathe sigh of relief after Hesse vote recount

Angela Merkel, the rest of the Christian Democrats and the Green party can all breathe a sigh of relief following the Hesse vote recount.

Merkel's CDU and Greens can breathe sigh of relief after Hesse vote recount
The CDU/Greens (black/green) coalition could continue in Hesse. Photo: DPA

After a vote recount in Hesse – over fears that the results of the recent regional election were wrong – the authorities announced on Friday that there were no significant changes.

The final results show that the conservative CDU is still the strongest party in the central German state after it achieved 27 percent in the state elections on October 28th, despite a drop of 10 percentage points from 2004.

The Greens, meanwhile, experienced a surge in popularity and managed to take second place from the centre left Social Democrats (SPD), but only with a tiny margin of about 90 votes. The final results show that the Greens and SPD are neck and neck after both achieved 19.8 percent of the vote, reported

The new state parliament has 137 members. The CDU has 40 seats, the Greens and the SPD: 29 seats each. The anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) will have 19 members, while the pro business Free Democrats (FDP) will have 11 and the Left (die Linke) 9.

Why was there a recount?

It emerged that there had been computer glitches on election night. The system used to count the ballots in the financial capital of Frankfurt was down for two hours on election night, leading to calculation mistakes.

At first the city council election offices had resisted a recount, saying that there was no reason to doubt the results.

However, officials had a change of heart and decided that counting all the ballots again would provide reassurances to citizens and politicians.

On Friday in Hesse capital Wiesbaden, the state election commissioner announced that compared to the provisional figures, there were no significant shifts in the percentages, and the distribution of seats in the state parliament has not changed.

It’s good news for the CDU and Greens. For the past five years, Hesse has been governed by the coalition of them both, and it's a partnership that the parties want to continue.

The CDU had suspended coalition talks with the Greens until the votes were recounted but now discussions can get underway.

SEE ALSO: Merkel's party hammered in key regional vote, what comes next?

The election had massive repercussions nationally. Only a day after, Merkel announced she was to step down as party leader.

Along with the CDU, the SPD also suffered heavy losses in the state elections three weeks ago, while the Greens increased their share of votes significantly, a trend that has taken place in other parts of Germany too, including Bavaria.

The AfD is moving into the state parliament for the first time and is now represented in the Bundestag and all 16 state parliaments.

SEE ALSO: Q and A: How the race to replace Merkel is breathing life into the CDU


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Sleep, seaside, potato soup: What will Merkel do next?

 After 16 years in charge of Europe's biggest economy, the first thing Angela Merkel wants to do when she retires from politics is take "a little nap". But what about after that?

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes and smiles at a 2018 press conference in Berlin.
Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes at a 2018 press conference in Berlin. Aside from plans to take "a little nap" after retiring this week, she hasn't given much away about what she might do next. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

The veteran chancellor has been tight-lipped about what she will do after handing over the reins to her successor Olaf Scholz on December 8th.

During her four terms in office, 67-year-old Merkel was often described as the most powerful woman in the world — but she hinted recently that she will not miss being in charge.

“I will understand very quickly that all this is now someone else’s responsibility. And I think I’m going to like that situation a lot,” she said during a trip to Washington this summer.

Famous for her stamina and her ability to remain fresh after all-night meetings, Merkel once said she can store sleep like a camel stores water.

But when asked about her retirement in Washington, she replied: “Maybe I’ll try to read something, then my eyes will start to close because I’m tired, so I’ll take a little nap, and then we’ll see where I show up.”

READ ALSO: ‘Eternal’ chancellor: Germany’s Merkel to hand over power
READ ALSO: The Merkel-Raute: How a hand gesture became a brand

‘See what happens’
First elected as an MP in 1990, just after German reunification, Merkel recently suggested she had never had time to stop and reflect on what else she might like to do.

“I have never had a normal working day and… I have naturally stopped asking myself what interests me most outside politics,” she told an audience during a joint interview with Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

“As I have reached the age of 67, I don’t have an infinite amount of time left. This means that I want to think carefully about what I want to do in the next phase of my life,” she said.

“Do I want to write, do I want to speak, do I want to go hiking, do I want to stay at home, do I want to see the world? I’ve decided to just do nothing to begin with and see what happens.”

Merkel’s predecessors have not stayed quiet for long. Helmut Schmidt, who left the chancellery in 1982, became co-editor of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and a popular commentator on political life.

Helmut Kohl set up his own consultancy firm and Gerhard Schroeder became a lobbyist, taking a controversial position as chairman of the board of the Russian oil giant Rosneft.

German writer David Safier has imagined a more eccentric future for Merkel, penning a crime novel called Miss Merkel: Mord in der Uckermark  that sees her tempted out of retirement to investigate a mysterious murder.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel forms her trademark hand gesture, the so-called “Merkel-Raute” (known in English as the Merkel rhombus, Merkel diamond or Triangle of Power). (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)

Planting vegetables
Merkel may wish to spend more time with her husband Joachim Sauer in Hohenwalde, near Templin in the former East Germany where she grew up, and where she has a holiday home that she retreats to when she’s weary.

Among the leisure activities she may undertake there is vegetable, and especially, potato planting, something that she once told Bunte magazine in an interview in 2013 that she enjoyed doing.

She is also known to be a fan of the volcanic island of D’Ischia, especially the remote seaside village of Sant’Angelo.

Merkel was captured on a smartphone video this week browsing the footwear in a Berlin sportswear store, leading to speculation that she may be planning something active.

Or the former scientist could embark on a speaking tour of the countless universities from Seoul to Tel Aviv that have awarded her honorary doctorates.

Merkel is set to receive a monthly pension of around 15,000 euros ($16,900) in her retirement, according to a calculation by the German Taxpayers’ Association.

But she has never been one for lavish spending, living in a fourth-floor apartment in Berlin and often doing her own grocery shopping.

In 2014, she even took Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to her favourite supermarket in Berlin after a bilateral meeting.

So perhaps she will simply spend some quiet nights in sipping her beloved white wine and whipping up the dish she once declared as her favourite, a “really good potato soup”.