The red Leipzig hasn’t tilted to the right. With his razor-thin lead of 1.5 percentage points, SPD Mayor Burkhard Jung was able to defend his position against his CDU opponent Sebastian Gemkow. The left-wing voters can breathe a sigh of relief, the law-and-order course of the Saxon Ex-Justice Minister Gemkow has been turned away. The head of administration remains a social democrat; that pleases the mostly red-red-green city council.
The bad news: Leipzig hasn’t flipped, but has slipped to the right since the OB election seven years ago. At that time, the left-wing candidates still came to around 71 percent compared to 29 percent for the CDU, but today the rift goes pretty much through the middle of the electorate: 49.1 percent for young, compared with a strong 47.6 percent for Sebastian Gemkow.
Almost half of the voters voted for a Christian Democrat who, in the face of declining crime, waged a fear campaign, preferred to delimit from the left rather than from the right and to remain eligible for AfD voters. In Leipzig, a thick black ring on CDU’s outlying districts encompasses the red center. The left voter spectrum is weakened.
So Jung may have won the election, but politically the result is not a success. In the first ballot, he and his left and green rivals had a 15 percentage point lead over the votes for Gemkow and AfD. Despite the increased turnout, Jung was unable to win this potential, even though his left-wing rivals had backed him.
So there is left-wing voter potential in the city that would rather not vote than vote young. He is resented that Leipzig’s freedom – for example, due to rising rents – is disappearing. If Jung wants the city now, he urgently has to deliver it to those left-wing voters who have gritted his teeth – and then go to the black ring without copying a Gemkow. The ordeal is only just beginning.