Merkel party in regional win
BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives won a regional election in the western state of Saarland yesterday, dealing a setback to their Social Democrat rivals and boosting her prospects of winning a fourth term in September’s national election.
Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) strengthened their position as the largest party in the state despite expectations ahead of the vote that the Social Democrats (SPD) would be boosted by their new national leader, Martin Schulz.
The CDU won 40.7% of the vote, up from 35.2% in the previous election in Saarland in 2012, preliminary official figures showed. The SPD slipped to 29.6%, down from 30.6%.
Saarland has only 800 000 eligible voters, but the state election was the first of three regional votes ahead of the September 24 federal vote.
Merkel has been an anchor of stability in Europe, which she has guided through the euro zone and migrant crises during her 11-year leadership.
The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) won 6.2% of the vote in Saarland.
The dip in support for the SPD was a setback in its first electoral test under new leader Schulz, whose promise to tackle inequality has resonated with many voters nationally and re-energised the centre-left party. – Reuters