Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) faced a challenge from the far-right in a state election on Sunday that was seen as the last major test for Germany’s political parties ahead of a national vote in September that will end the chancellor’s 16 years at the helm of German politics. .
In opinion polls, the CDU, whose current leader, Armin Laschet, will vie for the top position in September, improved on its performance in 2017 to take 36% of the vote in the eastern state – a result the state premier, Rainer Haselov, said symbolized by her. “Clear demarcation against the far right”.
The National Alternative (AfD) party came in second with 23.5% but underperformed in light of some polls indicating that the far right would challenge the CDU for the lead.
Haselof, ruled for the past five years by a “Kenya Alliance” between the CDU, SPD and the Greens, could turn into a power-sharing deal with the pro-business Social Democratic Party (FDP) – known As the “Germany Alliance”, after the colors of the national flag – or the “Jamaica” alliance with the Free Democratic Party and the Greens.
Laschet ruled out any form of power-sharing agreement with the AfD in the run-up to the vote, saying his party was a “firewall” against the far right. will stand firmly.
The elections for the state of Saxony-Anhalt, with a population of 2.2 million people, do not reflect the standing of the six main parties in Germany as a whole. But as the last state election before the national vote in September, the result will be eagerly scrutinized for hints about the underlying dynamics.
The belated attraction of the left-wing Die Linke party and the centre-left SPD in this region that was once part of the German Socialist Democratic Republic represents a case of the broader unease of the German left.
In 11% of the vote, Die Linke lost 5.3% of the vote compared to her 2017 results—the worst result in an Eastern state since its founding in 2007. Support for the SPD fell to 8.2%, one of the party’s worst results in a state election.
The Green Party, which continues to lead strongly in national elections, traditionally fights in eastern Germany, and will be the weakest of six parties in the next state parliament, on 6% of the vote. “We’ve improved our results, but not in the way we’d hoped,” said Greene co-leader and chancellor candidate Annalena Barbock.
The Free Democratic Party, which is enjoying a nationwide revival of frustration with the management of the pandemic in Merkel’s government, returned to parliament in Saxony-Anhalt with 7% of the vote, ahead of the 5% threshold for parliamentary seats.