The CDU has failed its first electoral test since Angela Merkel’s protegee refused to run for chancellor in 2021. Hamburg is a center-left heaven and the conservatives weren’t after a win, but they didn’t expect to do so badly.

“For us at the CDU, this is a bitter election result,” Daniel Guenther, the CDU premier of the state of Schleswig Holstein, said as he commented on the exit polls that showed his party scored just 11 percent in Sunday’s vote to finish third and achieve the worst result in Hamburg in the party’s history. In 2015, the CDU came second in the election in Germany’s second largest city, claiming almost 22 percent of the vote.

But this time the people of Hamburg clearly told the conservatives that they weren’t going to support a party that has no leader and no candidate for the top job in the country in the federal election next year.

After Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that she won’t be seeking reelection and quit as the CDU head, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer – or AKK as she likes to call herself – took the reins of the party and was expected to run in 2021. But two weeks ago, AKK shocked her colleagues by saying that she was not interested in the chancellor’s post. She has only agreed to remain the CDU chairperson until summer when the candidate for the federal election will be chosen.

The first two spots in the Hamburg vote were taken by the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens, who had been ruling the city-state in a coalition in recent years. The SPD lost seven percent compared to 2015, according to exit polls, but still remained ahead of the pack with 38 percent. But with fears of climate change on the rise it was the Greens, who became the big winners, as they managed to double their vote to 25.5 percent.

The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) lost its representation in Hamburg’s parliament. They stopped just short of the five percent threshold, with the party’s chances likely hampered by the deadly shooting which targeted immigrants in the western town of Hanau earlier in the week.