Germany’s Electoral Regionalization

As noted in the previous post, Germany’s electoral geography exhibits a stark division between former East Germany and former West Germany. Otherwise, its political distinctions are relatively muted, with most parties receiving somewhat similar shares of the vote in each state. But the southern portion of the former West is more center-right oriented than the northern portion, which, in contrast, inclines a bit more to the center-left. As a result, Germany can be said to be divided into three electoral macro-regions.

Germany’s three-fold political division reflects differences in economic productivity at the state level, at least if one excludes the three city-states (Berlin, Hamburg, and Bremen), which are not representative of the larger regions in which they are located. As the per capita gross regional product (GRP) map posted below show, former East German has a less productive economy than former West Germany, while in the former West, the north is a bit less productive than the south. The small western rustbelt state of Saarland, however, is an exception, as it groups between the East and the West on this indicator. It is also the most religious and the most Catholic state in Germany.

Map of Germany showing per capita gross domestic product by state in 2022
Germany per capita GRP by State 2022 Map

The rest of this post examines state-level maps showing the performance of each seat-winning German political party in the 2024 EU parliamentary election. The order of presentation is based on support level, starting with the party that received the most votes in this election.

As the first map shows, the center-right (combined) Christian Democratic Union did particularly well in Bavaria, Germany’s most economically productive “area state” (non-city-state, or Flächenländer). This party had a particularly poor showing, however, in the city-state of Hamburg, Germany’s most economically productive state. It did not do much better in the city-state of Bremen, Germany’s second most economically productive state. Such voting disparities among Germany’s richest states reflects both the north/south divide and the political differences between area states and the more left-leaning city-states.

map of Germany's 2024 EU election showing the vote percentage of the combined Christian Democratic parties by state
Germany 2024 EU election CDU vote by state map

The map (below) of the rightwing, or far-right, Alternative for Germany (AfD) clearly reveals the political divide between former East Germany and former West Germany. Intriguingly, AfD’s level of support was relatively uniform across the West, except for the region’s two city-states.

Map of Germany's 2024 EU election showing the Alternative for Germany vote by state
Germany 2024 EU election AfD vote by state map

Intriguingly, the divide between former East Germany and former West Germany does not appear on the map showing the vote percentage of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD). One can, however, discern on this map the distinction between the more center-right south and the more center-left north of the former West Germany. Also of note is the relatively high level of support for the SPD in western Germany’s poorest state, Saarland, and in Germany’s second wealthiest state, Bremen.

Map showing Germany's 2024 EU election vote for the Social Democratic Party by state
Germany 2024 EU election SPD vote by state map

The next map, that of the Greens, shows a relatively high level of support in the three city-states and a low level of support in the former East. On this map rust-belt Saarland groups more closely with the East rather than the West. Otherwise, levels of support for the Greens were relatively uniform across former West Germany.

Map showing Germany's 2024 EU election vote for the Greens by state
Germany 2024 EU election Green vote by state map

The upstart left-populist BSW party (Bündnis Sahra Wagenknecht) unsurprisingly found most of its support in former East Germany. Support levels were relatively low and uniform across the West, although again Saarland stands out for its more “eastern” voting pattern.

Map of Germany's 2024 EU election showing the BSW vote by state
Germany 2024 EU election BSW vote by state map

The map showing of the “classically liberal” center-right or centrist Free Democratic Party shows a different version of the east/west split, with wealthy Bavaria grouping more with former East Germany than with the rest of the former West, although the differences are not large. This unusual pattern perhaps indicates the somewhat more socially conservative attitudes found in both Bavaria and the East.

Map of Germany's 2024 EU election showing the Free Democratic Party vote by state
Germany 2024 EU election FDP vote by state map

The map of The Left Party – not surprisingly, the most left-leaning of Germany major parties, shows a national north/south division, with the northern half of former West Germany grouping a bit more closely with former East Germany than with the southern half of former West Germany. The city-state unsurprisingly gave slightly higher percentages of their votes to The Left than did the area states. But again, these differences are relatively minor.

Map of Germany's 2024 EU election showing The Left vote by state
Germany 2024 EU election The Left vote by state map

The map of the locally and regionally oriented Free Voters Party, which inclines in a conservative direction, reveals some significant regional differences. This party found negligible support in the city-states and performed only slightly better across the north. It had its best showing in Bavaria, arguably Germany’s most culturally and politically distinctive state, and one that has long harbored secessionist sentiments.

Map of Germany's 2024 EU election showing the Free Voters vote by state
Germany 2024 EU election Free Voters vote by state

The map of the pragmatic, reformist, pro-EU Volt Party nicely reflects the East/West division. But again, Saarland appears as an outlier, grouping more closely with the East.

Map of Germany's 2024 EU election showing the  Volt vote by state
Germany 2024 EU election Volt vote by state

The vote pattern for the satirical, leftwing The Party was unusually uniform, showing only minor differences from state to state.

Map of Germany's 2024 EU election showing The PARTY vote by state
Germany 2024 EU election The PARTY vote by state

Even more uniform is the map of the single-issue Animal Protection Party. I would have expected this party to have received a higher level of support in the city-states and a lower level of support in the former East. At the ideological margins, however, regional differences sometimes vanish.

Map of Germany's 2024 EU election showing the Animal Protection Party vote by state
Germany 2024 EU election Animal Protection Party vote by state

The rightwing environmental ÖDP had its best showing in the south, with Bavaria again standing out. In contrast, the rightwing familialist Family Part found its highest level of support in the former East Germany, where, counter-intuitively, birthrates are slightly lower than the national average.

Map of Germany's 2024 EU election showing ODP vote by state
Germany 2024 EU election ODP vote by state

Map of Germany 2024 EU election showing Family Party vote by state
Germany 2024 EU election Family Party vote by state

Finally, the map of the new center-left Party of Progress shows almost uniformly low levels of support across the county, with no significant regional patterns.

Map of Germany 2024 EU election showing Party of Progress vote by state
Germany 2024 EU election Party of Progress vote by state

Germany’s Electoral Regionalization Read More »