One fun aspect of being a German psephologist is that there are so many elections at the subnational level. With 16 Länder, there is always something going on. My own research focuses mostly on Rhineland-Palatinate (=Rheinland-Pfalz).
An Absolute Majority for the SPD as an Unintended Consequence? The Land Election in Rheinland-Pfalz 2006
The state election of 2006 in Rheinland-Pfalz resulted in a (bare) majority of the seats for the SPD, which allows the party to govern alone for the first time in the history of the state. The CDU, on the other hand, received slightly less than one third of the vote, an all-time low in its former stronghold. This result was by and large determined by factors at the state level. Yet, it had a considerable impact on the federal level: It signalled the end of a string of devastating losses for the SPD, enhanced the standing of minister president Kurt Beck (now the SPD's chairman), and brought an end to the last coalition between the SPD and the FDP. This repercussions notwithstanding, there is there is no evidence of a durable voter realignment benefiting the SPD, since the party's victory was apparently due to short- and mid-term factors. Therefore, the outcome of the next election (scheduled for 2011) is by no means a foregone conclusion.
Sports Cars, Sleaze and Gamma Rays: Rhineland-Palatinate Elects Its FirstRed-Green Government
The 2011 election in Rhineland-Palatinate was a political earthquake: Following a string of political scandals, the SPD lost almost ten percentage points of their support, while the CDU could hardly improve on their disastrous 2006 result. The FDP is no longer represented in the state parliament. The Greens more than tripled their last result, allowing them to enter a coalition with the SPD for the first time. Analyses at the municipal level show that the party improved most in their urban strongholds while still showing a (relatively) weak performance in rural areas. This will make it difficult to sustain the momentum of their victory. Moreover, the SPD is battered and bruised and needs to select a new leader, but veteran minister president Kurt Beck shows no inclination to step down. This does not bode well for a coalition that needs to organise the state's fiscal consolidation and structural transformation.