Merkel hopes for re­gional poll boost

Oman Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

BER­LIN: Chas­tened by their worst re­sult since 1949 in Septem­ber’s na­tional elec­tion, Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s con­ser­va­tives are hop­ing for vic­tory in a re­gional vote on Sun­day to strengthen their hand in thorny three-way coali­tion talks in Ber­lin.

While vic­tory in the Lower Sax­ony re­gion might strengthen Merkel’s po­si­tion within her party, a con­ser­va­tive fail­ure to emerge as the strong­est party could prompt talk of weak­en­ing au­thor­ity and pos­si­ble even­tual suc­ces­sion, said Ber­lin-based po­lit­i­cal ex­pert Gero Neuge­bauer.

Lower Sax­ony, an agri­cul­tural heart­land and Ger­many’s sec­ond big­gest re­gion, of­fers Merkel’s Chris­tian Democrats (CDU) the prospect of a morale boost as they seek to cob­ble to­gether an un­prece­dented “Ja­maica” na­tional coali­tion with the lib­eral Free Democrats (FDP) and Greens.

The road to such an al­liance, named after the Caribbean na­tion as the par­ties’ colours match those of its flag, is lit­tered with dis­putes on ev­ery­thing from mi­grants to tax and the en­vi­ron­ment. It would be the clunky coali­tion’s fed­eral de­but if talks, due to start next week, prove a suc­cess.

Carsten Nickel, deputy re­search di­rec­tor at Te­neo In­tel­li­gence, said Sun­day’s elec­tion — which polls show is set to be a neck-and-neck con­test be­tween the CDU and the ri­val So­cial Democrats (SPD) — would de­ter­mine mo­men­tum go­ing into na­tional coali­tion ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“If Merkel man­aged to steal that state from the SPD, it would prob­a­bly be a lit­tle bit of a boost,” he said. “It would prob­a­bly be slightly eas­ier for her to ar­gue in­ter­nally for the re­quired com­pro­mise and for strik­ing the deals and so on that will be re­quired over the next cou­ple of weeks.”

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