Berlin: Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) suffered a defeat on Sunday in Volkswagen AG’s home state in a contest that underscored her party’s weakened position as she begins potentially laborious talks to form her next national government.
Three weeks after Merkel’s CDU won the national election, her party lost to the Social Democrats in Lower Saxony. The SPD secured 37.5% of the vote, compared with 35% for the CDU, according to an exit poll published by broadcaster ARD.
The late surge by the Social Democrats under state premier Stephan Weil marked a reversal for the SPD, which posted its worst result since World War II in the 24 September national vote—and sapped confidence for the CDU as Merkel begins multiparty coalition talks with the pro-business Free Democratic Party and the Greens on Wednesday.
Merkel’s CDU has suffered losses as many voters turn to the insurgent far-right Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, adding to pressure on the chancellor—particularly from her beleaguered Bavarian allies—to adopt more conservative stances. That could complicate talks with the environmental Greens.
The Greens in the state won 8.5%, while the FDP had 7%. The AfD won 5.5%, enough to send lawmakers to the state parliament.
The early election in Lower Saxony, a region of 7.8 million people, held up coalition talks as parties campaigned in the state. The Social Democratic victory also contrasted with a shift to the right in Austria, where an election put the center-right People’s Party under Sebastian Kurz in position to form a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party. Bloomberg