German Christian Democrats suffer heavy defeat in regional polls
Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union fell to its worst result, two former strongholds as voters, angered by the government’s missteps over the coronavirus and several corruption allegations against CDU MPs, have deserted the party en masse.
The projections of the German television station Ard gave the CDU 24% in the southwest of the state of Baden-Württemberg, far behind the Greens, and 27% in the western region of Rhineland-Palatinate, where they have lost left-of-center Social Democrats.
Results could hurt CDU chief Armin LaschetThe ambitions of running as a center-right candidate for chancellor in the Bundestag elections in September. Many conservatives would prefer Markus Söder, leader of the Bavarian CDU party, CSU, to run instead.
“This is a disastrous result for the CDU,” said Susanne Eisenmann, the party’s first candidate in the elections in Baden-Württemberg. “We must now understand why, for more than ten years, we have gradually lost [this state]. ”
In recent weeks, polls have shown growing disenchantment with the Christian Democrats, and in particular with the performance of two CDU cabinet members – Health Minister Jens Spahn, accused of slow progress in the Covid-19 vaccination campaign in Germany and the botched deployment of rapid Covid tests, and Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, has been accused of delays in disbursing financial assistance to companies hit by the locking.
Results in the two western states do not bode well for the CDU ahead of four more regional polls this year and the national elections in September, when Merkel steps down after 16 years as chancellor of Europe’s most powerful economy .
But it was good news for the Green vegetables. The party is expected to have won the elections in Baden-Württemberg, the only state in Germany it rules, with 32% of the vote, its highest regional score.
Sunday’s preliminary results suggest his “green-black” coalition, with the CDU as a junior partner, has been granted a term for an additional five-year term.
But the Greens now also have the option of forming a “traffic light” coalition with the SPD and pro-business Free Democrats – a combination that would be nicer for many party members than a new tie to the Tories.
“It was a great start to a great election year,” said Robert Habeck, co-leader of the Greens.
Projections indicate that the SPD-led “traffic light” coalition in Rhineland-Palatinate may also remain in office for another five years. Many SPD members are now hoping that the tripartite alliance could be a model for a future national coalition government.
“We have shown in Rhineland-Palatinate that the traffic light ruled very well, and voters underlined it with this result,” said Malu Dreyer, the state’s SPD governor. “And why shouldn’t federal politicians be looking at this?”
The elections were overshadowed by a PPE scandal which severely damaged the image of the CDU / CSU. Earlier this month, CDU MP Nikolas Löbel resigned his parliamentary seat after it emerged his company had earned a commission of € 250,000 on a deal to buy anti-coronavirus masks.
Meanwhile, CSU MP Georg Nüsslein is under investigation for corruption after it was revealed he, too, had won massive fees on a mask contract. He announced that he would retire from politics after the election.
The CDU has also been affected by an investigation into alleged corruption payments by the authoritarian regime of Ilham Aliyev in Azerbaijan to some of its MPs.
“The case of the masks destroyed the faith [in the CDU] and the Germans expect better management of the coronavirus [pandemic]Said Christoph Ploss, the party leader in Hamburg. “Regional governments must finally provide sufficient testing capacity and speed up the pace of vaccinations.”
The CDU has opposed two extremely popular prime ministers who appeal to voters from all political backgrounds – Baden-Württemberg’s Green leader Winfried Kretschmann and SPD’s Dreyer in Rhineland-Palatinate.
In both states, CDU campaigns have been led by undefinable candidates who have been forced by the pandemic to avoid major campaign events and have failed to reach large voters.
The result reinforces the dominant position of the Greens in Baden-Württemberg, which Kretschmann has now led for 10 years. The party rose to power in the state, home to Daimler, Bosch and Porsche, after the Fukushima disaster in Japan sparked a backlash against nuclear power in Germany.
Kretschmann was able to dispel voters’ doubts about the Greens, proving that, as he said, economics can be reconciled with ecology. He sought a strategic dialogue with the state car industry and made Baden-Württemberg a hub of innovation.
But Sunday’s election is deeply humiliating for the CDU, which before Kretschmann’s victory in 2011 had ruled the state for 58 years. The party has often won an absolute majority in the state, gaining a record 56.7 percent in 1976. Rhineland-Palatinate, long ruled by Helmut Kohl, later chancellor, has also long been a stronghold of the CDU.