Eric Linhart, Marc Debus, Thomas Bräuninger
The 2009 Elections in Schleswig-Holstein: Polarised Electoral Campaign, Exceptional Election Results, and an Unspectacular Process of Government Formation

German Politics, 2010: 19, issue 2, p. 237-253
ISSN: 0964-4008

The elections for the Schleswig-Holstein Landtag were held on September 27, 2009, on the same day as the federal elections. After conflicts between the governing parties CDU and SPD, Prime Minister Carstensen had ended the ‘grand coalition’ and called for early elections, one year earlier than scheduled. The electoral campaign centred on the divide between Christian Democrats who favoured a coalition with the Liberals, and Social Democrats who competed for a majority together with the Greens. The elections resulted in large shifts in party strength. Christian and Social Democrats together lost about 22 percentage points of votes, while most of the smaller parliamentary parties attained their best election results in Schleswig-Holstein state elections ever. CDU and FDP gained a majority of seats and formed two coalition that re-elected Carstensen into office on October 27. Using concepts from coalition theory and data on parties’ office and policy payoffs, our analysis shows that a Christian-liberal coalition was indeed the most likely outcome of the government formation process.