Regional elections in Germany – Scholz’s SPD largely wins its first test at the ballot box

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The German Chancellor’s party, which succeeded Angela Merkel in December 2021, would win 43% in Sunday’s elections in the Saar region.

The Social Democrats relied on the popularity of their regional leader, Anke Rehlinger, 45, a lawyer and holder of the Saar Bullet Record.

AFP

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.

The chancellor’s party won 43% of the vote, compared to 27.5% for the CDU Christian Democrats, who have led this small region in western Germany for more than 20 years, according to an estimate from Infratest.Dimap for the public channel ARD. 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.

Given as dying a few months ago, before winning a surprise victory in the September parliamentary elections, the SPD will thus put an end to 22 years of conservative rule in this small border region of France.

More than 13 points compared to 2017

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. . In five years, the Social Democrats have thus managed to completely reverse the development with the CDU, which had clearly won in 2017 with more than 40% of the vote.

The question, however, is what national experience can be drawn from this election in this very small region. National opinion polls actually 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, particularly directed at his lack of leadership in light of the war in Ukraine or the pandemic.

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In the Saarland itself, however, 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. The SPD and the CDU thus have every opportunity in this small region bordering France to renew the coalition they have formed for many years, but this time with the Social Democrats as the dominant force.

The ecologists and liberals in the FDP, including members of Olaf Scholz’s coalition, would just reach the 5% limit needed to sit in the regional parliament. According to this poll, the far right wing AfD could also sit with 5.5%. The radical left wing Die Linke, on the other hand, would lose more than 10 points in five years to reach only 2.7% in this country, which was once one of these strongholds.

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Radical left wing in decline

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. In pursuit of a new impetus after its defeat in September, which ended with 16 years at the helm of the country, the CDU, now led by a rival to Angela Merkel, Friedrich Merz, has therefore still work to do in hopes of regaining control of the country. Germany. Elected in January on a very right-wing line, Friedrich Merz canceled his visit at a rally on Thursday and appeared to have drawn a line under victory even before the opening of polling stations.

After four mandates from Angela Merkel, the CDU seems to be causing a “general fatigue”, assesses the weekly Der Spiegel. Elections follow in May in Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous region in Germany, before Lower Saxony in October.

(AFP)

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