Victory in Saxony will nudge German conservatives ahead of first elections without Merkel

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Angela Merkel’s conservatives breathed a sigh of relief on Monday after a convincing victory in the last regional vote ahead of the general election, which also exposed the weakness of the Green Party, their main national rival.

IN Christian Democratic Union (CDU), led by new party leader Armin Lashet, won 37.1 percent of the vote on Sunday in Saxony-Anhalt, the final results showed well ahead of the far-right AfD party, which came in second with roughly 20.8 percent of the vote.

The Greens, who until recently voted alongside the CDU and its smaller sister party Bavaria, the CSU, at the national level, received a disappointing 5.9% result.

They followed the center-left Social Democrats (8.4%), who fell to single digits for the first time in Saxony-Anhalt.

The exodus to the former East German state is a huge boost for conservative would-be Chancellor Laschet ahead of the September 26 general election – the first in 16 years to have had no Merkel

“Laschet is still far from the chancellor’s office,” writes the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. But the poll result brought him closer to “this.”

Holger Schmiding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank, noted that national polls over the past ten days have shown that the CDU and CSU are again slightly ahead of the Greens after falling behind at the start of the year.

“After the CDU has succeeded in Saxony-Anhalt, this nascent turn of fortune in favor of the CDU is likely to continue,” he said.

‘Good sign’

Appointed as conservative candidate for chancellor Laschet inherited a number of problems in April, including anger over the government’s management of the pandemic and a corruption scandal over shadow mask contracts over the coronavirus.

In the last regional elections in Germany in March – in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg – the CDU suffered the worst results in both states.

Laschet himself has also suffered from weak popularity following a devastating conservative struggle to nominate Merkel.

The disunity in the ranks of the Conservatives contrasted sharply with the actions of the Greens, who, in agreement, nominated Annalena Berbock as their candidate for Chancellor.

As a result, Laschette lagged behind Berbock in popularity in the country.

But by Monday morning, voters in Saxony-Anhalt presented Laschet with an “invaluable gift,” writes Spiegel Online.

“After his unsuccessful start as a candidate for chancellor, it became clear that he would not be a man euphoric optimism about his campaign. Rather, the motto was to wait out this time, ”the message says. “Most of all he needs calmness, and now he has it.”

Die Zeit newspaper also reported that Sunday’s result boded well, in particular for Laschette.

The Prime Minister of Saxony-Anhalt Rainer Haseloff is “a man of middle management, a man of compromise … a man who keeps a cool head in risky moments,” the message says. “In other words, someone who looks a lot like” Lashet.

Therefore Lasche “can take the triumph of his party in Saxony-Anhalt as a good omen,” the newspaper added.

Green failure

However, speaking of the Greens, Die Zeit said Sunday’s result “brought them back to where they often land in East Germany: to the ground.”

Berbock’s initial popularity after her nomination sparked rumors that she might take Merkel’s position from the CDU, and polls ahead of Sunday’s vote predicted the party would double its stake.

>> In the race for Chancellor, a rising Green star could become Merkel’s “natural successor”.

But, as it turned out, the Greens only slightly improved their performance, exacerbating the party’s recent problems at the national level.

Berbock admitted last month that she had not declared about € 25,000 in additional revenue to parliament, and that her critics seized on a sign of hypocrisy from a party that favors more transparency in politics.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung also noted this week that her resume details several positions that Berbock no longer holds, prompting her to revise the list.

Friedrich Merz, a prominent CDU member, simply said that “Berbock’s train was derailed.”

The Tagesspiegel newspaper also predicts that the Greens will have a difficult road ahead.

Sunday’s screening “may be a quiet harbinger that, for all the euphoria surrounding the Green Chancellor candidate, the coming weeks may be difficult.”

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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