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BERLIN (AP) – Final results on Monday confirmed a larger-than-expected victory for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party in the last state elections in Germany ahead of a nationwide vote in September. This result gives impetus to the future successor of Merkel among the center-right forces, although it was primarily a triumph for the popular governor of the state.
Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union won Sunday’s elections in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt with 37.1% of the vote, well ahead of the far-right German Alternative with 20.8%. Election polls indicated a much narrower outcome, in some cases even a neck-to-foot race. The CDU scored more than 7 percentage points from the last elections five years ago, while Alternative for Germany fell 3.5 points.
Elections in Germany’s 16 states are often influenced by local concerns and voting sentiment, but are also considered important indicators of national sentiment. The vote in Saxony-Anhalt, a sparsely populated region of 2.2 million, gives CDU leader Armin Laschet – the party’s candidate who will replace four-year Chancellor Merkel in the national elections – a reason to celebrate after a rough start that included two state defeats. votes in March.
However, the outcome was widely seen as the work of a state governor who seems to have rallied voters for himself as a bulwark against Alternative for Germany, which is the strongest in the former communist East. The daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung commented on Monday that “it was not the party that played a decisive role in the triumph of the (Christian Democratic) Union, but one man: Rainer Haseloff.”
Sunday’s results were disappointing for two other parties running for office in the September 26 national elections. The center-left Social Democrats won 8.4% of the vote, the first time in Saxony-Anhalt to single digits.
Green environmentalists scored 5.9%, achieving only minimal results despite their current strong performance in national polls. Hazeloff may no longer need them to form the state government after he ruled Saxony-Anhalt in coalition with the Social Democrats and the Greens for the past five years.
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