German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party suffers heavy losses in state polls

German voters have used the state elections to vent their annoyance amid discontent over a sluggish start to Germany's vaccination drive

Published: Mar 15, 2021, 08.04 AM(IST)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union(CDU) suffered clear defeats in two German state elections on Sunday.

The set back comes just six months before a national vote which will decide who will succeed Merkel who has led the country for the past 16 years. The Christian Democrats slumped to record defeats in two regional votes after a muddled coronavirus response.

In Rhineland-Palatinate, the left-leaning Social Democrats came first with 35.5 per cent of the vote ahead of the CDU.

In Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany’s only green party governor, Winfried Kretschmann, has become popular with centrist voters after ten years running a region that is home to automakers like Daimler and Porsche.

German voters have used the state elections to vent their annoyance amid discontent over a sluggish start to Germany’s vaccination drive. The coronavirus restrictions are still in place and infections are on the rise once again.

Amid the confusion, the CDU has been hit over the past two weeks by allegations that two lawmakers profited from deals to procure masks early in the pandemic.

“We see that the results in the two different regional elections differ a lot. But we see the big support to the incumbent heads of these regional governments, Malu Dreyer and Winfried Kretschmann especially in Baden-Wuerttemberg, it is his own personal success. There was no mood for changing parties, in so far it was a confirmation of the incumbent state prime minister but I have to add that this wasn’t the first time it happened. We saw this in different regional elections as well,” Paul Ziemiack, CDU, general secretary, said.

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The CDU has seen its national popularity wane from 40 per cent last June when Germany was widely praised for its response to the coronavirus pandemic to around 33 per cent this month.

Merkel, in power since 2005, is not seeking re-election at the national vote and her Christian Democratic Union is already missing the “Merkel bonus” she has brought them with four consecutive national election victories.

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