• 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
Seven Germans killed in Gaza - reports
An Israeli strike on Gaza City on Monday. Photo: DPA

Seven Germans killed in Gaza - reports

A German family living in Gaza City were reportedly killed in an Israeli air strike on Monday evening. READ  

Workers in Germany pay record tax sum
Photo: DPA

Workers in Germany pay record tax sum

Workers in Germany are paying a record amount of tax into government coffers, according to figures published on Monday. Those on an average wage of €40,000 pay almost twice as much tax in Germany as they would in the United States or Australia. READ  

Man sets himself on fire at Israeli embassy
The Israeli Embassy in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Man sets himself on fire at Israeli embassy

A man set himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Berlin on Monday night. Police said it was too soon to say whether it was part of a political protest. READ  

Netflix to launch in Germany in September
Laverne Cox, star of Netflix series Orange is the New Black. Photo: EPA/PETER FOLEY

Netflix to launch in Germany in September

Netflix revealed plans on Monday to launch in Germany in September this year, bringing the popular movie and TV streaming service to one of the world’s biggest markets. READ  

Steinmeier: We'll raise pressure on Russia
An armed separatist walks past the bodybags of victims of the MH17 crash. Photo: EPA/IGOR KOVALENKO

Steinmeier: We'll raise pressure on Russia

Germany's foreign minister said Monday the EU will "raise the pressure" on Russia over the Ukraine crisis following the downing of Malaysian flight MH17 with a suspected missile. READ  

No foreigner road toll for German borders?
Bavaria's Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (l) and Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer are fighting over the "foreigner toll". Photo: DPA

No foreigner road toll for German borders?

Bavaria’s interior minister has called for German border regions to be exempt from a controversial project to charge foreigners to use the country’s roads, sparking a row within his own party. READ  

German Jews condemn 'explosion of hate'
Pro-Palestine demonstration in Berlin on July 12th. Photo:DPA

German Jews condemn 'explosion of hate'

The American Jewish Committee in Berlin has filed a complaint with the city's police about anti-Semitic slogans being chanted at pro-Palestine rallies, while Germany's Jewish community on Monday condemned an "explosion of evil and violent hatred of Jews". READ  

Aldi founder Karl Albrecht dies aged 94
Karl Albrecht. Photo: Aldi Süd/DPA

Aldi founder Karl Albrecht dies aged 94

UPDATE: Karl Albrecht, who became Germany's richest man by co-founding with his brother Theo the discount supermarket chain Aldi, has died aged 94, the company announced on Monday. READ  

Spy Scandal
Typewriter manufacturers see boom in sales
The secure desk of the future? Photo: DPA

Typewriter manufacturers see boom in sales

German typewriter manufacturers are enjoying a boom in sales following the NSA spying scandal. A German defence manufacturer switched to typewriters last year, while last week a leading politician called for the government to use the old technology. READ  

At least 18 swimmers die during heatwave
Lifeguards try to rescue a man on the beach in Ückeritz in northern Germany on Sunday. Photo: DPA

At least 18 swimmers die during heatwave

UPDATE: A US student and an eight-year-old boy are among at least 18 swimmers to have died since Friday as bathers try to cool off in a heatwave which has brought highs of 36C to Germany. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Gallery
German Bucket List: How many of these can you tick off?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Joachim Löw: A career in pictures
Photo: Submitted
Society
Is this expat cat the world's oldest?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Germany's week in pictures: July 12th - July 18th
Photo: DPA
National
Heatwave to bring highs of 36C to Germany
Photo: Daniel Biskup
Gallery
Happy 60th Birthday, Chancellor Merkel
Photo: DPA
Analysis & Opinion
Should Germany follow France and ban the burqa?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Which workers is Germany short of?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
World Cup winners welcomed home - in pictures
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten best expat jobs in Germany: Which one would you choose?
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Photo: Shutterstock
Features
Some of the most embarrassing mistakes you can make in German
Photo: obs/AXE Unilever Deutschland
Gallery
The wives and girlfriends of Germany's football stars
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
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
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

3,227
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd