Rival SPD party wins district held by Angela Merkel since 1990

The German constituency held by Angela Merkel for the last 30 years has flipped to a 27-year-old politician from the Social Democratic party (SPD), in the starkest expression yet of a generational change of guard underlying Sunday’s national vote.

Germany’s outgoing chancellor had continuously won a direct mandate in the electoral district of Vorpommern-Rügen – Vorpommern-Greifswald I since it was created after reunification in 1990.

Her successor, however, will not hail from her party but its historical rival: Anna Kassautzki of the SPD claimed the seat on the Baltic coast with 24.3% of first votes, improving her party’s performance by 12.7 percentage points.

Merkel’s designated successor in the district, the 33-year-old tax auditor Georg Günther, came second on 20.4% of first votes.

“I feel incredibly honoured,” said Kassautzki. “We delivered a team effort.”

Born in Heidelberg in 1993, the politician is a district leader of the Young Socialists movement and works at the University of Greifswald, where she leads a family support service team.

Kassautzki has said she is animated by social injustice and describes herself as a committed feminist and European in her Twitter biography. “If we want to move our country forward, we must ask the upper 10% to pay up more instead of courting them,” she wrote on her campaign website.

The 27-year-old’s triumph is representative of a broader change of power in Germany’s north-east, where the SPD managed to flip every single constituency in the states of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, as well as emerging triumphant in parallel state elections in the latter and in Berlin.

The Green party, which used to have only one direct mandate, managed to expand its number of directly elected candidates to 16, after flipping unlikely seats in conservative strongholds such as south-western Baden-Württemberg and Munich.

The Bundestag will have its first two transgender delegates in the coming term after an increase in the ecological party’s share under the second vote. The Green candidates Tessa Ganserer and Nyke Slawik will enter parliament via their party’s list.

Slawik tweeted that she could hardly believe her win, adding she hoped “we will today open a new chapter of self-determination in politics and that we can end the years-long patronising of queer people”.


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