Politics, Europe

Germany: Setback for Merkel’s CDU in regional elections

Christian Democrats get their worst results yet in 2 southwestern states, while Greens continue to surge in popularity

Ayhan Simsek   | 14.03.2021
Germany: Setback for Merkel’s CDU in regional elections File Photo - German Chancellor Angela Merkel holds a press conference at Christian Democratic Union (CDU) headquarters

BERLIN

In a hint of possible trouble in national polls this September, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) suffered major losses in Sunday regional elections in two southwestern German states.

According to an exit poll by public broadcaster ARD, the environmentalist, pro-immigration Green party managed to win 32.4% of the vote in Baden-Wuerttemberg, a wealthy, conservative state known for its strong auto industry.

The CDU, which governed the state for over 50 years up to 2011, got its worst-ever result with just 23.6% of the vote, down from the 27% it scored in the last elections in 2016.

State Premier Winfried Kretschmann, a popular Green party politician, told reporters that he would have talks with the leaders of the CDU, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), and the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) on various options to form a coalition government.

The Greens have the options of forming a coalition government with the CDU or a three-way coalition with the center-left SPD and pro-business FDP.

Rhineland-Palatinate elections

On Sunday, Merkel’s conservatives also suffered their worst state election yet in Rhineland-Palatinate, winning a record low of 26%, down sharply from 31.8% in 2016.

The CDU’s historical rival, the Social Democrats, are projected to win the state elections with 36% of the vote.

The Greens boosted their share of the vote from 5.3% to 8.2%, as the party enjoys growing support in recent years from young people and voters concerned about climate change and other environmental issues.

Sunday’s regional polls has been widely seen as a test for Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democrats ahead of September’s national elections.

The CDU has faced growing criticism in recent weeks due to the government’s hard lockdown measures, slow pace of vaccination, and recent scandals over the procurement of face masks.

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