Home news Landtag election in Bavaria: Something is crumbling

Landtag election in Bavaria: Something is crumbling

Anyone who listens in Solnhofen, learns: "The CSU gets on the trunk". Local visit in a village that chooses as Bavaria.

       Report by Elisa Britzelmeier, Christian Endt and Martin Moser



    The shepherd is scared. He holds two packs of soup vegetables under his arm, wearing a curly full beard, hat, craftsman's trousers, so he stands at food Thoma in the shop. He just wanted to go shopping. But if you ask him about the state election, then he talks first about the fear. The fear that the AFD will be strong in Solnhofen. Even stronger. 14 percent were in the general election. The shepherd says, "The problem is that nobody is satisfied."


    Solnhofen, 1867 inhabitants, Altmühltal, the last corner of Middle Franconia. A village, as there are many in Bavaria, between slopes in a river loop, not beautiful, not ugly. The Altmühl is so sluggish that you can not tell in which direction it flows. Magnificent flowers grow in the gardens, but some homeowners easily miss the paint. Solnhofen is average. Especially in terms of voting behavior: In the last election, the Solnhofen voted in much the same way as all of Bavaria. No place is closer to the nationwide result. In Solnhofen you should know what moves Bavaria.


    The calculation
    In which Bavarian community are the election results most similar to the country-wide distribution of votes? The question is relatively simple, but the answer is rather complicated. The SZ has used the data from four past elections: the two most recent votes for the Land and Bundestag. For these votes, the provincial and the Federal Returning Officer provide the results at the community level.
Now we have each calculated for the election result of each community a value that reflects the similarity to the national result. For this there is no clear procedure, but different mathematical methods. We calculated three options, compared them and checked their plausibility. In the end, we opted for the so-called Manhattan metric. This is so because you can use it to calculate the distance between two buildings in a right-angled road network.
We have added the values ​​for the four considered elections, whereby the more recent ones – that is the 2017 general election and the 2013 state election – are weighted twice. Solnhofen in the Altmühltal has emerged as the average Bavarian town, followed by Schäftlarn in the district of Munich, Eslarn in the Upper Palatinate and Winterhausen in the district of Würzburg – all of them places with less than 6000 inhabitants.


    About the town hall and on the homepage Solnhofen writes a motto: "The world in stone". The stone is everywhere, there are quarries, fossil collections, a paleontological museum with Archeopteryx. But who looks around in Solnhofen, feels: Something is crumbling.


    In the village shop


    The Solnhofen, says Günter Thoma, is stubborn and accessible at the same time. You do not lose a lot of words, it feels a little bit like on the construction site, he says. SOLNhofen by the way, emphasis on the front, best mumbled. Thoma belongs to the village shop, the only one in town. There used to be a supermarket once. But not worth it. That is why Nescafé is now stacking up on Pulmoll at Lebensmittel Thoma, so he has everything there, it piles up to the ceiling: tobacco, Rama, frozen minced meat, detergents, magazines, lettuce, tomatoes, Wunderbaum smell note "Wild Child".


    That's why the shepherd is there, hoping that the AfD will not be elected. This talk of alienation, what nonsense, says the shepherd. "We're fine," he says, in Germany, in Bavaria, in Solnhofen. Everything is there, "butcher, beverage market, two bakery". The fact that the Greens could do well worries him as well. Because they wanted the wolf. He as a shepherd is in favor of shooting down the wolf. This is an issue that the urban population has no idea about, he says.


    "The CSU at least gets something of the trunk," Thoma calls in between, then he has to answer the phone again, orders. Helene is on it. When Thoma locks up the shop, he drives around the village for those who can not or do not like to walk to the store. Helene's voice rattles through the speaker, she needs salt, tobacco – "you smoke the LM, nä?" – and one more thing, Thoma guesses sometime that she means Fondor. People come to him not only for shopping, but also to find out who listed where, how they talk about football or talk about holidays. A few miles away is already Eichstätt, Upper Bavaria, you can hear that also in the dialect. The Solnhofen sound very Franconian, then again a bit Bavarian. "Adé" is said here for the farewell, and you just do not go to the bakery, but to the "bakery".



              Food Thoma has everything you need. That's why it stacks up to the ceiling. A supermarket is no longer in Solnhofen, Altmühltal, 1867 inhabitants.


                  Picture: Martin Moser

                October 11, 2018, 14:49 © SZ.de/mmo/ebri

              Half of Solnhofen is still Protestant, with a tendency to decrease.


                  Picture: Martin Moser

                October 11, 2018, 14:49 © SZ.de/mmo/ebri

              Tourists come with e-bikes, canoes and trekking clothes or to see the fossil museum. They do not stay as long as they used to.


                  Picture: Martin Moser

                October 11, 2018, 14:49 © SZ.de/mmo/ebri

              The train connection is good – but the railway crossing and Altmühl separate Solnhofen into two parts.


                  Picture: Martin Moser

                October 11, 2018, 14:49 © SZ.de/mmo/ebri
A gentleman with basket stumbles in, he wanted to bake cakes, has forgotten the eggs, a mother comes with her child. Actually this is a pleasant place, says another customer who has lived here for four years. Günter Thoma did not think she could stand it for more than a year, "because I know the place because he is just boring!"


    Next door, Thoma sells a piece of the stone world to the tourists in his second shop. Minerals and fossils, "fossils" stands above the entrance, the word itself looks almost petrified. Tourism is going downhill, says Thoma. They used to have seven or eight inns here, now there are three. And the hotel in the center is a refugee accommodation.

Only on the back is the name of the Hotel Adler still on the wall, in front it was painted over.
            (Photo: Martin Moser)
    The Hotel Adler


    The older ones went here in their youth here in the village cinema and in the restaurant, later it led the owners as Hotel Adler on. Downstairs a breakfast room, upstairs the rooms. Cyclists and bikers stayed overnight in Solnhofen. They found everything they needed, rooms, shower, breakfast.


    In 2015, when many refugees arrived, that should change. The government was in dire need of accommodations – and the owner of Hotel Adler made it easy. A safe source of income for years. "I would not have done otherwise," says grocer Thoma. "Can I understand," says the mayor. But since then there is no hotel in the village anymore. The lettering with the name was painted over with red paint. The refugees came, at the same time tourism changed. Some in the village smell a connection there. The tourists come with canoes or e-bikes, they may stay a few hours. For Solnhofen this means: less income from long-term guests.


    In the refugee accommodation


    In the village there were only fears, says Ute Grimm. How it all should be with the many young men. Everything has settled again, because there are no major problems. In Solnhofen, the refugees would actually be no reason to vote for the AfD. That's one of the reasons why Grimm has particularly frightened their strong performance.


    In Solnhofen, says the mayor, it works because everyone wants it to work. He also says: It's mostly up to Ute Grimm. She is the SPD Ortsvorsitzende and works in the local government, she is particularly committed to the refugees in the village. 88 refugee men, women and children live here. At the Birkenhain, in a small house with many bicycles in front of the door, 17 men from Africa are accommodated.



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