Bang in the Basel elections – the red-green majority in Basel is history


After 16 years there will be a change of power in the government – that is clear after counting the votes in letters. With Esther Keller, the first ever green liberal is about to enter a cantonal government.

Government council candidate Stephanie Eymann (LDP) in Basel ends up at the top in the second ballot.
Government council candidate Stephanie Eymann (LDP) in Basel ends up at the top in the second ballot.

Foto: Georgios Kefalas (Keystone)

The change of power had become apparent after the first ballot – but the clarity is surprising. After counting the votes by post (traditionally around 90 percent of all votes in Basel), the order for the three remaining seats in the government in Basel is as follows: Stephanie Eymann (LDP, new) before Kaspar Sutter (SP, new) and Esther Keller (GLP, new). Almost a thousand votes behind is the previous security director Baschi Dürr (FDP) and then, beaten, Heidi Mück from Basta.

First, that means: the red-green majority in Basel-Stadt is history. Heidi Mück will not be able to catch up with the ballot boxers.

Second, it means: With Esther Keller, the green liberals will most likely move into a cantonal government for the first time.

And, thirdly, it means: With the election of Baschi Dürr, the FDP will lose its seat in the Basel government – for the first time in the history of the canton and the party.

Sensations with announcement

These are all real sensations in and of themselves – but they are sensations that have announced themselves. The basis for the change of power is the poor performance of District President Elisabeth Ackermann of the Greens in the first ballot. Ackermann only sat one legislature in the government and was criticized from the start. Her communication skills were not beyond reproach – in a position where communication tasks were essential.

After the poor result in the first ballot, Ackermann withdrew and the Greens were unable to present an alternative. Heidi Mück from her alliance partner Basta jumped into the gap. Mück politicized on the left edge of the spectrum and was seen by many in the SP as not eligible. At the latest when Mück declared the nationalization of pharmaceuticals to be “worth considering”, their chances of being elected fell significantly.

Instead, Stephanie Eymann will now move into government – the Liberals are represented twice. Eymann has only been politically active in the neighboring canton and at the municipal level. She benefits from a decent election campaign and from her name – she is the niece of National Councilor Christoph Eymann and part of a large family that dominates the bourgeois part of Basel politics and has always achieved good voting results. (Read the story of the Eymann / von Falkenstein family here.)

Esther Keller (GLP) leads by almost a thousand votes ahead of Baschi Dürr (FDP).

Esther Keller (GLP) leads by almost a thousand votes ahead of Baschi Dürr (FDP).

Photo: Dominik Plüss

The big beneficiary of the red-green weakness (and that of the FDP) is the Green Liberal Party with its candidate. “Many left voters seem to have elected Esther Keller to prevent a purely bourgeois majority,” speculated SP President Pascal Pfister on Twitter. The former television presenter and company spokeswoman for Novartis ran for the election without an alliance partner and showed a very active voting campaign.

If Keller can keep the nearly one thousand votes ahead of Baschi Dürr, then in future she will sit in the middle of a divided Basel government. Beat Jans (SP), who was elected in the first ballot, is now taking over the regional council. The final result is expected at 6 p.m.

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