For the past 58 years, the German state of Baden-Württemberg has been governed by the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU). That all ended last night in a crushing defeat to a center-left opposition, composed of the Greens and their Social Democratic Party allies. For the first time, the Greens would govern a German state.
According to media reports, the weekly Stuttgart-21 protests played a major role in CDU defeat. German voters are known for careful spending of public funds, which may explain the historic CDU defeat.
A recent Guardian article provides fascinating account of the Stuttgart-21 protests. The whole thing is worth reading, but here is one highlight:
It must help to feel the support of a weekly turnout, too. Because the Stuttgart movement isn’t just about blowing whistles or keeping trees and stations because they’re old. It’s about ensuring public money is wisely spent (Swabians are notoriously careful). So they’ve sought advice from Swiss rail experts about the number of trains the new station would process. They’ve pointed out the plan’s weaknesses in fire safety and wheelchair access. They have lawyers in their ranks who have proven it’s possible, and affordable, to withdraw from the current building contracts. And they’ve won concessions in arbitration, curbing the sell-off of public land. They’re not stopping there either: they’ve worked out an alternative, Kopfbahnhof 21, which would refurbish the existing station, and invest in the regional network instead of all those tunnels.