Sometimes the full extent of victory and defeat only becomes apparent after a day. This is also the case with the European elections. The CDU is the strongest force, the AfD and the BSW win in the east, the Greens and SPD are the losers of the election. As far as we know.

The election results at the district and city level, which the Federal Returning Officer published on Monday, provide a new perspective on victory and defeat. In the strongholds, the trends are even clearer: the CDU is scoring points across the board, the AfD is a popular party in the east, the Greens are falling back into their role as a milieu party and the BSW is taking on the role of the Left Party.

Also noteworthy: The traffic light coalition did not achieve a majority in any of the 400 constituencies. The closest the SPD, Greens and FDP came were in Freiburg (Breisgau), but even there they only managed 48.5 percent of the vote.

Only one party managed to achieve over 50 percent in one district: the CDU in Vechta in Lower Saxony (50.4). The result shows that the Union is currently the only force that can still win absolute majorities in national elections.

The CDU achieved its second-best result in Olpe (49.8) and its third-best in Emsland (49.5). In previous elections, rural North Rhine-Westphalia and the predominantly Catholic part of Lower Saxony were among the Christian Democrats’ strongholds. With party leader Friedrich Merz and general secretary Carsten Linnemann, two of the party’s leading figures now come from this region – from the Sauerland and from Paderborn, where the CDU received over 40 percent in each case.

The sister party CSU did not manage to exceed the 50 percent mark in any district in Bavaria. It achieved 48.9 percent in the Rhön-Grabenfeld district. The CSU achieved its worst result in Munich – but with 27.1 percent, it again became the strongest force ahead of the Greens compared to the 2021 federal election. Across Bavaria, it is 39.7 percent.

Nationwide, the AfD came in second place with 15.9 percent. The party’s strongholds are in eastern Germany. It was the strongest force in all five federal states. In the federal election, the SPD was still ahead in Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

In Saxony (31.8), Saxony-Anhalt (30.5) and Thuringia (30.7) the party managed to jump over the 30 percent mark. In these three federal states the party is classified as right-wing extremist by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. These warnings do not resonate with voters: they are expecting the AfD to achieve election results similar to those once achieved by the mainstream parties CDU and SPD.

Within Saxony, the east of the state stands out in blue, where the AfD already triumphed in the 2017 and 2021 federal elections: In the Görlitz district, the home of co-chairman Tino Chrupalla, the AfD achieved 40.1 percent this time, in the Saxon Switzerland-Eastern Ore Mountains district 39.5 percent, and in the Bautzen district 39.2 percent.

A look at the federal states again shows that the AfD’s success is not exclusively an East German phenomenon: In Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, the AfD became the second strongest force with 12.6 and 14.7 percent, respectively; only in Hamburg did it not achieve a double-digit result with eight percent.

The Chancellor’s party, the SPD, is now the strongest party only in Bremen with 21.5 percent. There and in Saarland (20.5), the Social Democrats broke the 20 percent mark. In NRW, the former heart of the party, they only managed 17.2 percent. The SPD was the strongest party in Herne with 23.9 percent, ahead of the CDU, and in Gelsenkirchen the Social Democrats even came in just behind the AfD.

The SPD’s strongholds at district level are also not in NRW, but in Lower Saxony. The party achieved its best result in Emden (26.3), and its second best in Aurich (24.4). Kassel (24.6) follows in third place. In eastern Saxony, in parts of Thuringia and in some districts in Lower Bavaria, the SPD is close to or already below the five percent mark.

The Greens are the big losers in the European elections. Nationwide, the party’s share fell from 20.4 to 11.9 percent. A look at the district level suggests one conclusion: Away from the urban centers and their core electorate, the Greens have had little success.

In Freiburg (30.3), Münster (27.4) and Heidelberg (26.8), as well as in twelve other cities, the Greens were the strongest force. Overall, the first 29 (!) places in the Green strongholds are exclusively West German cities and the city states of Berlin and Hamburg.

Things were different in the 2019 European elections: Back then, the Greens were in first place in Schleswig-Holstein and came second in several states, including Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. In North Rhine-Westphalia, where the Greens became the governing party with 18.5 percent in the 2022 state elections, they now received 13.5 percent. A result that the party also achieved in other large states such as Lower Saxony and Baden-Württemberg, but which is far from the ambitions of the Greens.

“That’s more than I expected,” said party founder Sahra Wagenknecht, commenting on the 6.2 percent result in the European elections. In fact, the BSW exceeded the advance it had received in polls in the East. In all federal states, the BSW came in third place with double-digit results behind the AfD and CDU, even relegating the governing party SPD to the back of the pack.

In a state comparison, the BSW performed best in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (16.4), followed by Thuringia (15.0), Brandenburg (13.8), Saxony-Anhalt (12.9) and Saxony (12.6). At the district level, the BSW’s strongholds are in Suhl (20.1) and in the Saalfeld-Rudolstadt district (18.5) in Thuringia and in the Mecklenburgische Seenplatte district (18.3).

In East Germany, the BSW achieved results that in some states were higher than those achieved by the Left Party in the last European and federal elections. In West Germany, the Wagenknecht party only managed to get over the five percent mark in Saarland, Bremen and Berlin. Both are signs that the BSW could take over the Left Party’s position in the party spectrum.

The Left itself is on its way to becoming a small party with 2.7 percent: only in East German cities such as Leipzig (10.5), Jena (9.9) or Weimar (8.9) does a significant proportion of voters still choose the party. In a state comparison, the Left only gets above the five percent mark in Berlin (7.3), Bremen (5.8) and Thuringia (5.7).

With 5.2 percent, the FDP roughly maintained its 2019 level. Traditionally, the FDP’s strongholds are in the south and southwest of the country. This was also the case in this election. In Düsseldorf, the home of top candidate Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, the FDP achieved its best result nationwide with 11.2 percent. This was followed by the Hochtaunuskreis (10.2) in Hesse and Reutlingen (8.9) in Baden-Württemberg.

The strongholds of the Free Voters, who received three seats in the European Parliament with 2.7 percent, are in Bavaria and, more recently, in Rhineland-Palatinate, where they have been represented in the state parliament since 2021. The Free Voters made a statement here in the Bitburg-Prüm district with 23.4 percent. The party’s top candidate for the European elections comes from there: Joachim Streit, previously parliamentary group leader of the Free Voters in the state parliament in Mainz.

Also rooted in Bavaria is the Ecological Democratic Party (ÖDP), which achieved 4.5 percent in Passau and will once again have one representative in the European Parliament.

The Volt party is entering the European Parliament with three representatives (plus two). It sees itself as pan-European because it ran in all 27 member states. This was evidently well received by voters: the party was able to more than double its share of the vote. A look at the strongholds shows that this was to the detriment of the Greens: Darmstadt (10.9), Heidelberg (9.5) and Karlsruhe (7.5) are the Volt strongholds in university towns.

The satirical party “Die Partei” led by comedian and EU MP Martin Sonneborn won two seats. “Die Partei” was also strongest in large cities and university towns, with a result of 4.3 percent in Leipzig. The party “Last Generation” appeals to a similar milieu – but without success: the newly founded activists of the troublemaker group of the same name received 1.3 percent in Freiburg and 1.0 percent in Leipzig. Nationwide, they rank below the others with 0.3 percent.

There is another new party that stands out, but also did not make it into the European Parliament: in Gelsenkirchen and Duisburg, 2.6 and 2.5 percent of voters voted for the Democratic Alliance for Diversity and Awakening – Dava for short. The party is close to the Turkish ruling party AKP. In two Duisburg constituencies, more than 40 percent of the vote was cast, but nationwide, only 0.4 percent.