German Chancellor's Center-right Party Wins State Election

Posted March 31, 2017

The Left party (Linke) was reported to have won 13 percent of the votes, Alternative for Germany (AfD) 6 percent and the Greens 4.5 percent.

This election result demands anyone, who has been discounting Merkel's win in September based on polls should have a second thought.

Voters returned Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) to power with 41 percent of the vote, five points higher than at the last election in 2012.

Martin Schulz, 61, is running against Merkel as a member of the SPD in the September 24 national election.

The state contest pits Saarland's prime minister, 54-year-old Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, against her deputy in the regional government, the SPD's Anke Rehlinger, 40.

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"For Merkel, this is a positive start into the election year and should help to calm the mood within her alliance of Christian parties", said Carsten Nickel, a risk analyst at Teneo Intelligence in Brussels.

"The fact remains that we're improving - that's true of Saarland as well", Schulz said at his party headquarters in Berlin on Monday.

Mrs Kramp-Karrenbauer has been prime minister of Saarland since 2011.

She called the state election the day before "encouraging" and "great". He is credited with a revival in popular support for his party.

Germany's top-selling daily Bild said Merkel clearly had the wind in her sails after the Saarland vote, noting the dilemma faced by Schulz and the SPD.

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Earlier this month, anti-Islam and anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders failed to win the most votes in an election in the Netherlands that was partly viewed as a bellwether of populist sentiment in Europe. Kipping sought to deflect blame to the Social Democrats for not coming out more clearly in support of a change in power in Saarland.

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According to the latest national polls, neither right-wing nor left-wing coalitions command a majority.

But the new euphoria did not translate into the strong results the SPD had hoped for in Saarland, a former coal mining region, which held the first of three German state polls scheduled in the run-up to the national election.

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