Christian Democrats (CDU) are getting weaker. This seems to have been the tenor of political coverage in Germany in recent months, particularly with the end of Angela Merkel’s era ending this fall and the power struggle earlier this year over who would be his successor, a fight finally won by Armin Laschet, who is now the party’s candidate for chancellor.
But on Sunday, the CDU managed to remove its first significant obstacle on the way to the general election, scheduled for September 26. In a state vote in Saxony-Anhalt, the center-right party emerged victorious with 37.1 percent of the vote. And perhaps most importantly, the match managed to improve by 7.3 percentage points (according to preliminary results) compared to its presentation in 2016.
“Without the national trend, this result would not have been possible,” said a satisfied Friedrich Merz, who was one of Laschet’s main rivals in the party’s leadership earlier this year. “It offers an impressive confirmation for our Chancellor candidate Armin Laschet.”
You may be right. While many people have their doubts about Laschet, the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, the CDU has recently risen in nationwide polls as the country begins to leave. aside the coronavirus collective blue and begins to open. While Chancellor Merkel and many of her CDU ministers were assassinated in the press for all sorts of missteps related to the crown – and misdeeds – just a few months ago, it appears the party is back in health along with the rest of country. Not only that, it also marks the first time in a series of state elections that the CDU has gained ground.
Perhaps even better news for the CDU is the weak display of the Green Party. Widely seen as the main rival of the Christian Democrats towards this autumn, the Greens were looking for some indication that their traditionally weak presence in East Germany was a thing of the past. However, with only 5.9 per cent in Saxony-Anhalt on Sunday, this argument will be difficult to make. In addition, it appears that the party has improved by only 0.7 percentage points over the 2016 state elections. If the candidate for green chancellor, Annalena Baerbock, wants to end up in the chancellery, that is, she will probably have to do so without much support from East Germany.
The right wing loses ground
Beyond the possible implications of the elections for the autumn general election, however, perhaps the most important result of the Saxony-Anhalt vote is the demonstration of the right-wing extremist party Alternative for Germany. A 20.8 percent result is unsettlingly high for a right-wing party like the AfD, but the result is 3.5 percentage points below 2016 and, more importantly, is a far cry from the cant. which took place within the party, which intended to replace the CDU as the strongest political power in the state.
Despite the clear victory of the AfD CDU, right-wing radicals will continue to be a thorn in the side of conservatives. The CDU, led by state leader Reiner Haseloff, will have to form a coalition to get a majority in the state parliament. And with the Greens and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD – 8.4%) underperforming, it is not entirely clear what this government alliance could be like. Still, CDU voices on Sunday evening made it clear that the party is coming out of the election with a new sense of self-confidence. “We are the bulwark against the AfD,” CDU state politician Siegfried Borgwardt said on Sunday, “I don’t need any tutelage from other states or Berlin.”
However, at the opposite end of the confidence scale is the far-left party. With some roots in the former Communist Party of East Germany, the Left Party had long been able to count on solid results in the states of East Germany. On Sunday, however, he made it clear that this is no longer the case. The left-wing party managed only 11%, 5.3 percentage points less than in 2016 and 13.7 points compared to 2011. “It’s a defeat for the entire left-wing party,” the party said on Sunday. national party leader Susanne Hennig-Wellsow. “Nothing good can be said about that.”
Now, the party is fighting for any future. If the left-wing party loses its support in East Germany, it is hard to imagine that it will have much success in the general election. “The Orient has often saved us in recent years,” says Maximilian Becker, a member of the left-wing party. If this is no longer the case, the general election “could be extremely awkward.” He says the result in Saxony-Anhalt is nothing short of “dramatic.”