2018 Bavarian state election

The 2018 Bavarian state election took place on 14 October 2018 to elect the 180 members of the 18th Landtag of Bavaria. The incumbent government of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria led by Minister President Markus Söder lost its majority.
The CSU and Social Democratic Party both lost more than 10 percentage points compared to the 2013 election, finishing at 37.2% and 9.7% respectively. The SPD, which had previously been the second largest party, fell to fifth place. The Greens gained 8.9 points and emerged as the second strongest party with 17.5%. Alternative for Germany, which ran in Bavaria for the first time, placed fourth with 10.2% of the total vote. The Free Democratic Party, which failed to enter the Landtag in 2013, narrowly made it in with 5.1%, becoming the smallest party in the new legislature. The Free Voters of Bavaria gained 2.6 points and finished third, slightly ahead of AfD at 11.6%. Turnout soared to 72.3%, up 8.7 points from 63.6% in 2013.
The election was overshadowed by the condition of the federal CDU/CSU–SPD government following two crises in the preceding months; the so-called asylum quarrel in June and July, followed by the controversy around Hans-Georg Maaßen in September. CSU leader Horst Seehofer played a major role in both events. Four days before the Bavarian election, federal SPD leader Andrea Nahles criticised Chancellor Angela Merkel, accusing her of a "lack of leadership".

Election date and preparation deadlines

According to the Bavarian Constitution, the election must be held on a Sunday "at the earliest 59 months, at the latest 62 months" after the preceding state elections which took place on 15 September 2013. This would theoretically allow an election date between 19 August and 11 November 2018, but in practice the elections since 1978 have always taken place between mid-September and mid-October. The Bavarian state government proposed 14 October 2018 as the election date on 9 January 2018 and officially set it on 20 February after hearing the parties to the state parliament.
The deadline for determining the population figures, which are decisive for the distribution of the 180 Landtag mandates among the seven Bavarian administrative districts and a possible new division of the constituencies, was 15 June 2016. On this basis, the Bavarian Ministry of the Interior had to submit a constituency report to the Landtag until 36 months after the election This was done on 6 September 2016.
Delegates to the internal constituency meetings could be appointed at the earliest 43 months after the preceding election, i.e. since 16 April 2017. The actual district candidates had been eligible since 16 July 2017. The parties and other organised electoral groups which had not been represented continuously in the Bavarian Land Parliament or in the German Bundestag since their last election on the basis of their own election proposals had to notify their intention to participate to the State Election Commissioner by the 90th day before the election, i.e. by 16 July 2018 at the latest. The actual election proposals and any necessary signatures had to be submitted by 2 August 2018.

Electoral system

Bavaria, in line with the rest of the country, uses mixed-member proportional representation to elect its members of the Landtag. Party representation is not apportioned statewide, the distribution of seats takes place separately within the seven administrative districts, which are referred to in the electoral law as constituencies. The constituencies are divided into districts in which one member is directly elected. The number of single member districts is about half the number of seats in the constituency. In contrast to the Bundestag election law, the distribution of seats by proportional representation takes into account the parties' aggregate first votes combined with their second votes, i.e. both the first and second votes affect the distribution of seats in the Landtag, as opposed to just the second votes, which is the norm elsewhere in the country. Only Parties and groups of voters who obtain at least 5% of the total votes in Bavaria participate in the distribution of seats. This threshold also applies to winning single-member districts; a party will forfeit all its district seats that it won if the party did not meet the 5% statewide threshold.
Unlike the other German states, Bavaria uses an open-list system for its party-list seats. Voters not only cast a vote for a candidate in their district, but they also cast a vote for a list candidate in their region. For the distribution of list seats, all district candidates are also constituency candidates with their parties. The party may also nominate regional-only candidates to account for the possibility of overhangs and expansion of the Landtag. A candidate is ranked within his or her list by the number of first votes he or she receives within the district plus the number of second votes he or she receives from voters elsewhere in the region. In this manner, voters collectively can produce a list that is different from what the party submitted, which can result in the defeat of candidates that would have been elected had the election taken place under a closed-list system.

Boundary changes

In the statutory constituency report of September 2016, the state government stated that the numerical distribution of the 180 state parliament seats among the constituencies would have to be changed due to changes in the number of inhabitants. It was recommended that a seat previously to be awarded in the Lower Franconia constituency be allocated to the Upper Bavaria constituency.
Within Upper Bavaria, the additional seat was used to reshape the single member districts in the state capital of Munich, as two of them — Giesing and Milbertshofen — exceeded the average population by more than 15 percent. Upper Bavaria now has 31 single member districts for the 2018 elections, nine of which are accounted for by the state capital.
Seats and single member districts are distributed as follows:
ConstituencySeatsSingle member districts
Upper Bavaria6131
Lower Bavaria189
Upper Palatinate168
Upper Franconia168
Middle Franconia2412
Lower Franconia1910

Starting position

Since the state elections in Bavaria in 2013, the CSU has again had the absolute majority of seats, as it did from 1962 to 2008. In December 2017, however, Minister President of Bavaria Horst Seehofer finally declared his renunciation of the top candidate in the state elections in Bavaria 2018, partly due to the poor performance of the CSU in the 2017 Bundestag elections. In March 2018, he also resigned from his office as Minister President of Bavaria before the end of the parliamentary term. The former Bavarian Finance Minister Markus Söder was elected as the new top CSU candidate and later also as Minister President of Bavaria in the state parliament.



In 2018, the CSU Markus Söder's government enacted the Kreuzpflicht, an obligation to display crosses at the entrance of public buildings. Söder has stated that the crosses are not to be seen as Christian symbols, but as symbols of Bavarian cultural identity.
Some observers have described the Kreuzpflicht as a measure to appeal to voters deserting the Christian democratic conservative CSU for the right-wing nationalist AfD party. Also the CSU interior minister Horst Seehofer has taken a harder line on immigration.


The table below lists parties represented in the 17th Landtag of Bavaria.

Leaders' debate

A Leaders' debate between Minister President Markus Söder and Ludwig Hartmann took place on 26 September 2018. The Bayerischer Rundfunk justified the party selection with the result of the Bayerntrend of September 12, 2018, according to which CSU and Greens can hope for the most votes in the election. SPD Secretary-General Uli Grötsch described this decision as "completely absurd". A programme with representatives of the other five parties, whose survey results were above or close to the five percent hurdle, followed on 28 September 2018: Natascha Kohnen, Hubert Aiwanger, Martin Sichert, Martin Hagen and Ates Gürpinar. The first programme was moderated by BR editor-in-chief Christian Nitsche, the second by Ursula Heller.

Opinion polling

Polling firmFieldwork dateSample
Polling firmFieldwork dateSample
2018 state election14 Oct 201837.29.711.617.
10–11 Oct 20181,075341210195.54105.515
6–10 Oct 20185,06332.911.09.818.55.93.912.85.214.4
2–8 Oct 20181,707331011185.54.514415
1–4 Oct 20181,122351210185.54.510517
1–2 Oct 20181,0023311111864.5106.515
20–26 Sep 20181,004351310165412519
21–25 Sep 20181,064341110176414417
19–23 Sep 20185,06136.012.08.617.95.03.313.24.018.1
17–19 Sep 20181,114351311185410417
5–10 Sep 20181,000351111175511518
4–10 Sep 20181,00636127166414520
30 Aug–9 Sep 20185,04635.812.
23–27 Aug 20181,03336138156314521
15–26 Aug 20185,04937.811.
30 Jul–13 Aug 20185,04738.112.37.315.05.32.715.24.122.9
25 Jul–9 Aug 20181,10537128175413420
25–31 Jul 20181,00439128146313525
11–16 Jul 20181,00338139165412322
5–11 Jul 20181,00739127146314525
4–6 Jul 20181,00338128156314423
23 Jun–5 Jul 20185,09342.513.
25–27 Jun 20181,23141136135314527
21–22 Jun 20181,03340138145313426
19 May–7 Jun 20185,06641.
11–16 May 20181,00542137125213629
23 Apr–11 May 20185,08242.113.76.613.55.12.912.04.128.4
22–27 Apr 20181,00241127146312527
20–26 Apr 20181,00244146115312530
17–20 Apr 20181,00542136137313329
19 Mar–5 Apr 20185,04844.514.86.511.34.22.811.94.029.7
16–21 Mar 20181,00443156116312428
2–15 Mar 20185,00441.414.28.412.
12–26 Feb 20185,04039.413.48.612.25.33.512.35.326.0
8–22 Feb 20181,02742147146310428
1–9 Feb 20181,51040156116312725
6–16 Jan 20185,04039.914.87.611.45.83.413.14.021.1
3–8 Jan 20181,00240167145310524
27 Dec 2017–1 Jan 20181,00739157107312724
12–13 Dec 20171,00340157127412325
24 Nov–13 Dec 20175,01936.716.08.312.17.12.912.94.020.7
27–29 Nov 20171,00637157108314622
16 Oct–16 Nov 20175,03438.814.96.510.88.03.613.53.923.9
6–9 Nov 20171,01738177119411321
2–3 Nov 20171,03337178108413320
13–18 Oct 20171,00441156117313426
25 Sep–13 Oct 20175,04340.714.
2017 federal election24 Sep 201738.815.32.79.810.
4–9 Jan 20171,00145147134310431
27 Oct–2 Nov 20161,0054418610629526
8–12 Oct 20161,0134519610529426
9–14 Sep 20161,0154518512529427
4–15 Jul 20161,0084316614438627
11–14 Jul 20161,000451751349728
8–13 Jul 20161,0154717611527530
17 May–8 Jun 20161,69847.517.54.511.53.53.57530
23 May–3 Jun 20161,01040166144310724
27 May–1 Jun 20161,0214817610528431
15–19 Apr 20161,0184816610529432
14–16 Mar 20161,0154816511529432
12–17 Feb 20161,0104617511429629
7–11 Jan 20161,0004716512338631
28 Dec 2015–3 Jan 20161,0194519610437626
12–18 Nov 20151,0164618511438528
1–7 Oct 20151,019461861265728
23 Sep–2 Oct 20151,0074319511436924
10–16 Sep 20151,007492061052829
16–22 Jul 20151,0114720610521027
18–24 Jun 20151,012481979524629
5–15 Jun 2015651462088434726
7–13 May 20151,008481871045830
9–15 Apr 20151,0164819710424629
19–31 Mar 20151,2664719711324728
8–12 Jan 20151,0044619109334627
Nov 20142,000491879225831
13–23 Nov 20141,7004720810236427
1 Oct–4 Nov 20142,114481899225730
2014 European election25 May 201440.520.14.312.
10–12 Mar 20141,002461812111328
9–13 Jan 20141,004491991042730
2013 federal election22 Sep 201349.320.
2013 state election15 Sep 201347.720.

Policy areas relevant to elections

On behalf of the RTL/n-tv Trendbarometer, Forsa Institute interviewed the survey participants about the "biggest problems at state level". "In Bavaria, 34 percent of those surveyed named the CSU and Prime Minister Markus Söder. 28 percent called the subject refugees, 26 percent 'the situation on the housing market'".
Infratest dimap asked respondents to the ARD primary election survey which topic is very important for their election decision. In the order of most percentage points these were school and education policy, nature conservation in Bavaria, creation of affordable housing, reduction of injustice in society, security and police, regulation of immigration, the behaviour of Horst Seehofer in the federal government, the cooperation of CDU, CSU and SPD in the federal government.

Voter turnout

The voter turnout in the city of Munich remained high. Until 2 p.m. it was 54.6 percent including the postal voters. In 2013, the turnout at that time was 49.7 percent. The final total turnout was recorded as 72.3% of eligible voters.

Election result

Summary of the 14 October 2018 election results for the Landtag of Bavaria
! colspan="2" | Party
! Ideology
! Votes
! colspan="2" | Votes %
! colspan="2" | Seats
! Seats %
! colspan=9|
! align="right" colspan=2| Total
! align="right" |
! align="right" | 13,564,747
! align="right" | 100.0%
! align="right" |
! align="right" | 205
! align="right" | +25
! align="right" |


Polls on a favorite coalition

The percentages indicate the proportion of respondents who would most like the particular coalition available for selection. The missing values to 100% made no statement.
InstituteDateCSU AloneCSU
Civey18 September 201819.3 %15.4%15.3%13.7%10.1%

State government formation

Before the election, CSU faction leader Thomas Kreuzer declared that the CSU would not form a coalition with the AfD or the Greens after the election.
The CSU agreed on a coalition deal to govern with the Free Voters of Bavaria on 4 November 2018.