State poll offers boost for Merkel but crushes allies
Chancellor Merkel (L) applauds with the victorious CDU premier of Saarland. REUTERS photoGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party received an electoral boost on March 25 in a regional vote, the first of three quick-fire state ballots, which also handed her coalition allies a big defeat ahead of national elections in 2013.
In the first of three quick-fire votes in eight weeks, the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) was kicked out of the state assembly in Saarland, winning just 1.2 percent, according to provisional official results.
It was the first of three state elections in two months that offer a test before a national vote expected late next year in Germany. Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) took 35.2 percent of the vote -- winning unexpectedly clearly over Germany’s main opposition Social Democrats (SPD), who made gains but finished on 30.6 percent.
CDU will seek a so-called “Grand Coalition” with SPD, a trend which may be repeated in national elections. “The people of Saarland have earned a stable government. They showed they wanted a Grand Coalition and that they wanted me as state premier,” said Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the victorious CDU premier of Saarland, a region of 1 million people on the French border.
“We will show there that organized liberalism in both states is strong enough to have an important function in parliament and in responsibility,” FDP General Secretary Patrick Doering said after vote. The vote in the small south-western Saarland which borders Luxembourg and France will be followed by the more strategically important Schleswig-Holstein on May 6 and North Rhine-Westphalia a week later.
Compiled from AFP, AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.