x

Politics

Merkel’s Party Fends Off Far-Right Challenge in State Vote

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives handily batted away a challenge from the far right in a state election Sunday that was seen as the last big test for Germany's political parties before a national vote in September.

Projections by public broadcaster ARD put Merkel's center-right Christian Democratic Union at 36.6%, a gain of more than 6 percentage points compared to the last election five years ago in the sparsely populated state of 2.2 million inhabitants.

The far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD, was projected to get 22% of the vote, a slight drop compared to 2016. The party has moved steadily further to the right in recent years and its chapter in Saxony-Anhalt has come under increased scrutiny from Germany's domestic intelligence service for its ties to extremist groups.

While elections in Germany's 16 states are often influenced by local issues and voting sentiments, they are also seen as important bellwethers for the national mood. A strong win for the CDU would be seen as a sign that the party's new leader, Armin Laschet, can hope for support from both conservatives and centrists on Sept. 26, when it aims to hold onto power at the federal level despite four-term chancellor Merkel not running again.

The election result, if projections based on partial counts are confirmed, would be a strong endorsement for incumbent governor Reiner Haseloff of the CDU, who now has the comfort of being able to pick from as many as four possible coalitions with smaller parties. For the past five years, the 67-year-old has governed in an unprecedented coalition with the center-left Social Democrats and environmentalist Greens.

Haseloff, whose popularity in the state was a strong pull for voters, ruled out any cooperation with AfD or the ex-communist Left party, who were projected to get 11% of the vote — a record low in the state. 

The Social Democrats also fared worse than five years ago and were expected to get about 8.4%, while the Greens made modest gains to take 6%. Projections also showed that the pro-business Free Democrats entered the state assembly again after missing out five years ago, receiving 6.5%.

A final result wasn't likely before late Sunday or Monday, as many mail-in ballots had yet to be counted.

Haseloff expressed relief that voters backed centrist parties at the expense of the political fringes, saying the outcome showed a "big, big majority had made a democratic choice and drawn a clear demarcation line to the right." Aside from its core message against immigration, the AfD this year campaigned strongly against pandemic restrictions and its election posters urged voters to demonstrate their "resistance" at the ballot box.

But Karamba Diaby, who chairs the Social Democrats' chapter in the state's biggest city, Halle, said the fact that the far right had again won more than a fifth of the total vote was "very sad for democracy."

Diaby, who also represents his party in the national parliament, said the Social Democrats had failed to capitalize on their achievements in the state government — an argument that has also been used to explain its poor results at the federal level.

"It's clear that we're not going to stick our heads in the sand," he said. "The election campaign for the Bundestag starts tomorrow."

RELATED

WASHINGOTN - Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on Tuesday, the minister tweeted.

Top Stories

General News

FALMOUTH, MA – The police in Falmouth have identified the victim in an accident involving a car plunging into the ocean on February 20, NBC10 Boston reported.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

General News

PHILADELPHIA – The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Philadelphia and Greater Delaware Valley announced that the Evzones, the Presidential Guard of Greece will be participating in the Philadelphia Greek Independence Day Parade on March 20.

Video

Mitsotakis Meets with Biden at the White House (Video)

WASHINGTON, DC – Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with US President Joe Biden at the White House on Monday, in the first day of an official two-day visit to the American capital.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. abc@xyz.com

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.