• Germany edition
 
Voters deal Merkel surprise victory
Chancellor Angela Merkel (r) with Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (l). Photo: DPA

Voters deal Merkel surprise victory

Published: 25 Mar 2012 18:39 GMT+02:00
Updated: 26 Mar 2012 07:51 GMT+02:00

In the first of three quick-fire votes in eight weeks, the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) was kicked out of the state assembly in Saarland, winning just 1.2 percent, according to provisional official results.

The party was already kicked out of five state parliaments last year after also failing to reach the required five percent to secure parliamentary representation.

Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which has governed in a national coalition with the FDP since 2009, retained its position as the state's strongest party, winning 35.2 percent.

CDU General Secretary Hermann Gröhe called it a "day of great joy for Saarland and for the CDU".

The main opposition Social Democrats (SPD), which had been polling neck-and-neck with the CDU, failed to do as well as expected but saw a marked improvement on their 2009 result, with 30.6 percent.

SPD head Sigmar Gabriel said he viewed the result both "laughing and crying".

The result sees the state poised to enter a grand coalition with the SPD. Kramp-Karrenbauer called the result a positive signal for the CDU on the national level.

"The people have got the state premier they wanted," she said. Kramp-Karrenbauer said Merkel had called to congratulate her just minutes after the first forecasts were reported.

Kramp-Karrenbauer announced in January that she would dissolve the state’s three-way coalition, between her conservatives, the FDP and the Greens.

The collapse was caused by an ongoing internal strife within the local FDP, which had fatally undermined her government's stability.

FDP General Secretary Patrick Döring sought to put on a brave face, looking ahead to two upcoming regional votes in May, despite the party now having been humiliatingly kicked out of six states since last year.

"We will show there that organised liberalism in both states is strong enough to have an important function in parliament and in responsibility," he said after the Saarland vote.

Last year's "super election" year saw Merkel's party suffer an electoral setback in her home state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in September.

But most humiliating for the CDU was a defeat to the Greens in March in the wealthy south-western state of Baden-Württemberg that the conservatives had ruled without interruption for nearly six decades.

However Merkel's personal approval rating, as well as her CDU, has been riding high in polls of late, seemingly cheered by her leadership at the helm of Europe's biggest economy, through the eurozone debt crisis.

"This close liaison between the CDU and SPD possibly anticipates the constraints which may result at federal level after the next general election," the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper said on Monday.

The vote in the small south-western Saarland which borders Luxembourg and France will be followed by the more strategically important Schleswig-Holstein on May 6 and North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) a week later.

After a gruelling seven regional votes last year, Merkel and her junior Free Democrats were only due to fight one in 2012, but that unexpectedly swelled to three after the sudden collapse of Saarland and NRW state governments.

As Germany's most populous state with 18 million people and a major industrial base, NRW's centre-left minority government fell after just 22 months over a budget dispute.

The state historically plays a big role in federal politics - in 2005, a lost vote in NRW prompted then chancellor Gerhard Schröder to call a snap federal election which he then lost to Merkel.

Kicking off the electoral season, Saarland, a small region of about 800,000 voters, called early elections after the coalition of FDP, CDU and Greens collapsed in January.

The far-left Linke party won just over 16 percent in Saarland, and the Pirate party, which burst on to the German political scene last September, won its second footing in a state parliament with 7.4 percent.

The Greens scraped back in with five percent.

The FDP peaked in the last national election, grabbing more than 14 percent of the vote and formed a coalition government with Merkel's CDU. But it has since seen its ratings dwindle amid internal squabbling and political strategies that have backfired.

DAPD/The Local/AFP/arp/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

19:22 March 25, 2012 by Englishted
Oh no not another grand coalition ,I do wonder if it worth voting when nothing ever changes.
20:18 March 25, 2012 by marimay
Aw, cute. Your elections are rigged, too!
21:09 March 25, 2012 by vonSchwerin
This is so pathetic.

The FDP was in the government, and they imploded -- not only losing their ministerial portfolios, but also all their parliamentary mandates.

And the third and fourth parties in the state parliament aren't serious about governing a modern, Western European country in complex and nuanced world. One is practically a one-issue party, and the other wants the DDR Light and crazy policy ideas.
Today's headlines
German women are still falling short of equality
Still a man's world: women in Germany find it hard to rise as high as Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: DPA

German women are still falling short of equality

Women in Germany are still underrepresented in leadership jobs and among professors, a new government report said on Wednesday. They are also paid less and remain unlikely to study science, technology, engineering or mathematics. READ  

The Local List
Five reasons to visit Oktoberfest (five not to)
Photo: DPA

Five reasons to visit Oktoberfest (five not to)

With just over 50 days to go until Munich's Oktoberfest starts, it is time to book your train/plane/horse to the world’s biggest beer festival. Or is it? The Local List looks at five reasons you should be making that trip, and five why you'd better steer clear. READ  

Visa chaos hits Bayern Munich's USA tour
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Photo: DPA

Visa chaos hits Bayern Munich's USA tour

Bayern Munich boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is among the club's staff and players who could not join a week-long tour to the USA on Wednesday because of visa problems. READ  

Dead TV star replies to SPD party invite
German actress Renater Küster with a statue of her late husband Dieter Hildebrandt. Photo: DPA

Dead TV star replies to SPD party invite

The Social Democrats (SPD) accidentally invited a dead TV star to attend its summer party. It got a shock when the veteran presenter replied saying, "I can't make it". READ  

Father killed in 'Cold Water Challenge'
The digger tipped over. Photo: DPA

Father killed in 'Cold Water Challenge'

A father died and five of his friends were injured on Tuesday night in western Germany when a digger fell on top of them during a so-called Cold Water Challenge. READ  

Huge Bavarian crop circle puzzles crowds
Raisting crop circle. Photo: DPA

Huge Bavarian crop circle puzzles crowds

A mysterious crop circle in Bavaria has attracted thousands of visitors since it was spotted in a wheat field last week. READ  

German siblings killed by drunk driver in Austria
Photo: DPA

German siblings killed by drunk driver in Austria

A ten-year-old girl and her 21-year-old brother were killed overnight in a road accident on the A1 motorway in Upper Austria, caused by a drunk driver who was driving on the wrong side of the road. READ  

Merkel: Russia sanctions were 'inevitable'
Merkel warned further sanctions could be imposed against Russia. Photo: DPA

Merkel: Russia sanctions were 'inevitable'

Strong sanctions imposed by the EU against Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis were “inevitable”, Chancellor Angela Merkel claimed on Tuesday night, despite Germany's initial reluctance to get tough on President Vladimir Putin. READ  

Boy's body found in US Ramstein plane
A C-130J at Ramstein air base. Photo: DPA

Boy's body found in US Ramstein plane

The body of an adolescent boy was found in a wheel well of a US military cargo plane after the aircraft landed at Ramstein Air Base in Germany over the weekend, the Pentagon said on Tuesday. READ  

Have Your Say
Should Germany legalize cannabis?
Photo: DPA

Should Germany legalize cannabis?

A New York Times editorial on Sunday called for the US to drop its ban on marijuana, calling the strongly-worded law a "laughing stock". Should Germany follow the US states of Colorado and Washington and legalize recreational use of the drug? READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Analysis & Opinion
Have Your Say: Should Germany legalize cannabis?
Photo: DPA
Education
Germany's students fail to graduate in time
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Hamburg harbour lit up in blue
Business & Money
JobTalk: 'Application process is failing'
Photo: Bundesarchiv/Bild 183-S45825
Culture
Germany puts 700,000 WWI docs online
Photo: DPA
Society
This man wants to give all of us €12,000 a year
Photo: DPA
Education
Top university switches master's courses to English
instagram.com/gotzemario
Gallery
Germany's World Cup stars share their holiday photos
Travel
Plans unveiled for bike trail along former Iron Curtain
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The Local List: 12 best words in German
Photo: DPA
Gallery
German Bucket List: How many of these can you tick off?
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,261
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd