The evaluations of the Bavarian elections were rather focused on the fate of CSU. The party produced its worst results in history and can probably only keep its positions due to a coalition with centristic parties. But the fall is not surprising, CSU’s failure could be explained by higher voter turnout and the popularity of new parties.
In comparison, the results provide no excuse for the Social Democrats. They were always the weaker side in Bavaria, but up to the last elections were regarded as the strongest party in the opposition. They dropped 9.7 percent behind the Greens, the Afd and the FDP which means the worst result for the SPD in the post-war period.
The worst thing is that the result is not just affecting Bavaria and it is not an anomaly. The popularity of the SPD is in a long-term decline. Creating the grand coalition forced by the leaders harmed the image of the party and while centrists nowadays are supporting CDU/CSU, the position of the left was secured by the Greens and Die Linke. Last year the SPD was still thinking about how to restore its former glory. Now they are talking about political survival. Especially due to the fact that more than half of the sympathizers are more than 60 years old.
The problems of the social democrats cannot be solved by finding a new narrative or with better communication. The SPD lost its credibility, it took part in creating many problems for contemporary Germany. Leaving the grand coalition is not enough for gaining back the trust, but it is inevitable. Otherwise the party will reprise the fate of progressive Central European parties.