Merkel's coalition loses German state vote

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 20, 2013 at 5:48 pm •  Published: January 20, 2013
Advertisement
;

BERLIN (AP) — Germany's center-left opposition won a wafer-thin victory over Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition in a major state election Sunday, dealing a setback as she seeks a third term at the helm of Europe's biggest economy later this year.

The opposition Social Democrats and Greens won a single-seat majority in the state legislature in Lower Saxony, ousting the coalition of Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union and the pro-market Free Democrats that has run the northwestern region for 10 years. The same parties form the national government.

The 58-year-old Merkel will seek another four-year term in a national parliamentary election expected in September. She and her party are riding high in national polls, but the opposition hoped the Lower Saxony vote would show she is vulnerable.

The outcome could boost what so far has been a sputtering campaign by Merkel's Social Democratic challenger, Peer Steinbrueck.

"This evening gives us real tailwind for the national election," said Katrin Goering-Eckardt, a leader of Steinbrueck's allies, the Greens. "We can and will manage to replace the (center-right) coalition."

However, the close outcome also underscores the possibility of a messy result in September, with no clear winner.

Before Sunday's election, the main question had been whether the Free Democrats, whose support has eroded badly since they joined Merkel's national government in 2009, would win the 5 percent needed to gain seats in the state legislature. Polls over recent months had suggested that they might not.

The Free Democrats won 9.9 percent of the vote, thanks to tactical voting by supporters of Merkel's conservatives. Many chose the smaller party so that the coalition's "good policies for solid budgets, safe jobs and good education could be continued," said the general secretary of Merkel's party, Hermann Groehe.

Despite the popularity of David McAllister, the state's CDU governor, that helped push down the conservatives' support to 36 percent from 42.5 percent in Lower Saxony's last election in 2008. They finished as the biggest single party but fell short of expectations.

The combination of the CDU and Free Democrats has now lost control of four states since the smaller party joined Merkel's government in 2009.

At national level, the alliance has developed a poor image, with the Free Democrats taking much of the blame for frequent government infighting. Merkel and her party, meanwhile, have been bolstered by a relatively robust economy, low unemployment and the chancellor's hard-nosed handling of Europe's debt crisis.



Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    Best cities to launch a startup
  2. 2
    Drought-stricken California may restrict outdoor water use
  3. 3
    Eva Mendes, Ryan Gosling pregnancy sparks Twitter shock from fans - NY Daily News
  4. 4
    Advocates for blind, deaf want more from Apple
  5. 5
    World Cup Fan Scores Modeling Gig From Cheering
+ show more