Elections in Saarland: Scholz ‘SPD wins its first election

Just over a hundred days after coming to power, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party has won its first election, a regional election in the Saarland, with its hand against crisis-stricken Conservatives.

The chancellor’s party won 43.5% of the vote, against 28.5% for the CDU’s Christian Democrats, who have been at the helm for more than 20 years in this small region of western Germany, according to initial official results. The SPD would even gain an absolute majority in the state parliament with 29 of the 51 seats against 19 for the CDU. The other parties, from the ecologists to the far right via the Liberals, would fight to reach the 5% needed to sit in the regional parliament.

Voters “clearly chose a change at the head of their region”, responded on Twitter Olaf Scholz and hailed a “convincing victory”.

Anke Rehlinger, a popular chef in the Saarland

The Social Democrats, who have been at the helm of the ruling coalition since early December, would thus get more than 13 points compared to the previous election in 2017 in this country, the least in Germany after the cities of Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen.

Also read: Olaf Scholz turns Merkel around

The Social Democrats relied on the popularity of their regional leader, Anke Rehlinger, 45, a lawyer and holder of the Saar Bullet Record. The Minister of Economic Affairs and Deputy Chairman of the former regional government, Anke Rehlinger, has a good image with Saarland, who especially appreciates her commitment to the victims of deindustrialisation.

His opponent, the current Prime Minister Tobias Hans, 44, is to hand over the leadership of a country he has held for four years.

A test before an election “super-year”

Given as dying a few months ago, before winning a surprise victory in the parliamentary elections in September, the SPD will thus put an end to 23 years of conservative rule in this small border region of France.

This life-size test since Olaf Scholz’s takeover of power, at the head of a coalition formed with environmentalists and liberals, is the first in an election “super year” in Germany, marked by three other regional elections. .

The question, however, is what national experience can be drawn from this election in this very small region. In fact, national opinion polls show an erosion of the SPD since the parliamentary elections: they are now overtaken by the Conservatives, and Olaf Scholz is the subject of numerous criticisms, especially directed at his lack of leadership in light of the war in Ukraine or the pandemic.

A form of sacred union since the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Regional issues “tipped the scales” in this election, said CDU Vice President Andreas Jung, who did not want to draw national conclusions from this “bitter night”.

This regional success shows that the victory in September was not a “unique success”, without a future, on the contrary, judges the co-chairman of the SPD, Lars Klingbeil.

In the Saarland itself, the SPD seems to have benefited from a form of sacred union that followed the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “Everything that is being said and done now is under the influence of war. This is not the time to do the opposition “, summed up before the vote Thorsten Frei, one of the leaders of the CDU group in the Bundestag.

Read again: The meteoric rise of the SPD, at the gates of the chancellery

In the hunt for a new push after its defeat in September, which ended 16 years at the helm of the country, the CDU, now led by a rival to Angela Merkel, Friedrich Merz, therefore still has work to do to get its party out. of the crisis it has been through since the departure of Angela Merkel. After four mandates from Angela Merkel, the CDU seems to be causing a “general fatigue”, the weekly estimates. The mirror.

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