Germany’s Christian Democrats won a landslide victory in elections in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt on Sunday, in a major boost for their leader Armin Laschet and his bid to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor in September .
The CDU was able to face a strong challenge from the far-right alternative for Germany (AfD), which it had sought to exploit. widespread public discontent on the Covid-19 block.
It has been a funny night for the Greens, who have been riding in the polls since the nomination of popular MP Annalena Baerbock is their first candidate for the April chancellor. They had hoped for an advance but scored only 6.1 percent.
Projections by German public broadcaster ARD, traditionally seen as an accurate predictor of final results, put the Christian Democratic Union at 37.0 percent, up more than 6 points from the last state election. in 2016. AfD went up 20.9 percent, down 3.4 percentage points from its 2016 result.
Projections, based on exit polls, suggest that the current CDU coalition, Social Democrats and Greens, led by CDU’s Reiner Haseloff, will have enough seats in the regional parliament to continue in power. But the CDU could also choose to form a partnership with the SPD and pro-business Free Democrats (FDP).
“I’ve been prime minister for ten years, and people know me. . . which supports it, “Haseloff, a 67-year-old former academic, told ARD.” I think that credibility has been a decisive factor. “
He also thanked voters for “building a clear firewall against the far right” by supporting the center-right CDU rather than the AfD.
Some polls before the election had suggested that the AfD could beat the CDU in second place. Even if that happened, however, he would not be in a position to form a government that no other party is willing to form a coalition with.
The beautiful result of the AfD in 2016, when it won almost a quarter of the votes, reflects the public reaction against Angela Merkel’s liberal immigration policies and the influx into Germany of more than one million asylum seekers. , most of the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan.
It was a depressing night for the Social Democrats, a junior colleague in Merkel’s grand coalition government, who saw their share of the vote cut 1.1 points to 8.3 per cent – one of their worst results in Germany of after war. The Greens are up 6.1 percent, up 0.9 points from 2016.
“We have increased our share of the vote, but not as much as we had hoped,” said Annalena Baerbock, the Greens ’candidate for chancellor.
“Tonight the Baerbock train derailed,” said Friedrich Merz, one of the CDU’s most important politicians.
The pro-business FDP gained 6.4 percent of the vote, up from 1.5 points on 2016. The left-wing Die Linke, which has its roots in the former Communist Party once governing East Germany, it fell to 11.2 percent, from 16.3. one hundred and five years ago.
Saxony-Anhalt is a small state with a population of voting age of only 1.8 m. German reunification has plunged it into an economic depression from which it is still recovering, and the population has declined by 24 percent since the 1990s as young people headed west in search of better jobs.
The state faces even more economic shocks in the coming decades as Germany moves to shut down its lignite mines – a major employer in Saxony-Anhalt – as part of efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The result was a victory for Armin Laschet, Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, who will run as a candidate for the joint chancellor of the CDU and its Bavarian sister party the CSU in the September federal election, which will mark the end of Angela Merkel’s 16 years as chancellor.
The CDU fell in the polls earlier this year, hit by public frustration at the slow pace of the vaccination campaign, and by a corruption scandal involving a friction of Christian Democrat MPs.
There were also doubts about Laschet’s ability to win the Bundestag elections which were exploited by Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder, who sought to be named candidate for the CDU / CSU chancellor, sparking a bitter power struggle. Laschet hopes that the decisive result in Saxony-Anhalt finally dispels those doubts.