• Germany edition
 
SPD/Greens win Lower Saxony by one seat
Photo: DPA

SPD/Greens win Lower Saxony by one seat

Published: 20 Jan 2013 23:44 GMT+01:00
Updated: 21 Jan 2013 07:26 GMT+01:00

In one of the tightest state races in recent memory, the Social Democrats and the Greens Sunday eked out a one-seat majority in Lower Saxony over the incumbent coalition of Merkel's Christian Democrats with the Free Democrats.

After a suspense-packed night with broad implications for the September general election, the centre-left camp said it aimed to use its victory to create fresh momentum in its bid to deprive Merkel of a third four-year term.

She was said to be planning to meet her party and hold a news conference on Monday morning.

"It shows the race until September is far from over," the Social Democrats' embattled challenger to Merkel, Peer Steinbrück, said.

Merkel, who campaigned hard for state premier David McAllister, a half-Scot widely seen as a potential successor to her, enjoys a strong lead in national polls due to her fierce defence of German interests in the eurozone crisis.

But pundits said the state win could help shore up the battered campaign of the gaffe-prone Steinbrück.

After a series of regional poll setbacks, Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) lost support in Lower Saxony but remained the strongest party with 36 percent of the vote.

Their state coalition partners for the last decade, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), drew nearly 10 percent -- more than doubling many pollsters' forecasts and their best result in Lower Saxony in post-war history.

But their cumulative result fell just short of the Social Democrats (SPD) at around 33 percent with the Greens' 14 percent, meaning the opposition can build a one-seat majority to govern Germany's fourth most populous state.

The FDP, Merkel's junior partner in government since 2009, got a lift from CDU voters splitting their ballots under Germany's two-vote system in a bid to rescue the coalition.

Around 101,000 voters who backed the conservatives in 2008 had plumped for the FDP this time.

Some 6.2 million people were called to the polls in the north-western state home to auto giant Volkswagen.

If the FDP had failed to win representation, its embattled leader Philipp Rösler, who is also Merkel's vice chancellor and economy minister and who hails from Lower Saxony, would likely have been forced to step down.

The outcome seemed to grant him a reprieve.

"It is a great day for the FDP in Lower Saxony but it is also a great day for the FDP and liberals in Germany as a whole," a beaming Rösler told reporters.

The Morgenpost newspaper said there were a number of lessons to draw from the vote.

"The CDU is not as strong as it feels. The FDP is not as dead as it looks. And a continuation of the black-yellow coalition in Berlin is no longer so unthinkable," it wrote, referring to Merkel's team.

"The only thing that is sure is that it will be tight."

The centre-left Süddeutsche Zeitung said the election may grant both the flailing FDP and the beleaguered Social Democrats a new lease of life.

"The FDP now has time to recover, to sort itself out," it wrote, noting it was still fighting for survival with dismal national poll ratings. "The SPD has the same task ahead."

Steinbrück, a former finance minister from Merkel's 2005-09 "grand coalition" government, was anointed by the SPD as its chancellor candidate late last year.

But he has run into trouble with revelations that he made around €1.25 million over the last three years in speaking fees, and with comments suggesting that Merkel owed much of her popularity to her gender.

Despite the narrow win, Steinbrück admitted he had been of little help to his party in the key poll.

"The Social Democrats did not have tailwinds from Berlin," he said. "I share a significant part of the responsibility."

After Lower Saxony, only the southern state of Bavaria is expected to vote before the general election.

AFP/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

01:38 January 21, 2013 by MattMarriott
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
01:55 January 21, 2013 by Eric1
Yes follow the Communist right into the abyss of poverty and misery. Forward comrades!
06:31 January 21, 2013 by Berlin fuer alles
The ever decreasing circle is getting very small now Dr. Merkyl and Mr. Hyde. You are now beginning to fly up your own ass. Hopefully 2013 will be the year the Germans will realise her for what she really is.
07:31 January 21, 2013 by Wrench
The 'Green Party'. Voted in by rich old bastards that have one foot in the grave and a summer home in Switzerland.

It doesn't matter which political party, they all have an agenda...self advancement. They could care less about the people that pay their salaries.
11:50 January 21, 2013 by iseedaftpeople
well... that's just the way politics works. Nobody stays in power forever.

What's probably the most bitter disappointment for David McAllister is that he was never elected by the people, just like Gabriel ten years ago after he had inherited the office from Schröder who went on to become Chancellor. Similarly, Wulff put McAllister in office when he left for his Presidential adventure, but voters now gave him the heave-ho.

It may well be that the CDU received the most votes last night, and McAllister will always have that. But in the end, it makes losing his job only all the more tragic.

But again, that's just politics. The CDU had a ten-year run in Lower Saxony, perhaps now it's going to be another ten years until the SPD in that state loses its mojo and the next generation of CDU hopefuls takes over again.
15:51 January 21, 2013 by smart2012
best for europe is that verkel gets out. Go Germans :-)
17:36 January 21, 2013 by Englishted
@ Eric1

Go and have a tea party ,but stop betting as you can only pick losers.
20:05 January 21, 2013 by raandy
The Greens, better there true name "The Reds" smoke screen.
13:30 January 22, 2013 by Englishted
@raandy

Are you colour blind or what ?.
Today's headlines
'Mad prof' swims length of Rhine river
Photo: DPA

'Mad prof' swims length of Rhine river

A German chemistry professor started on Monday a gruelling four-week solo swim down the Rhine river for the benefit of science and the environment. READ  

Unfair advantage for one-legged long jumper?
Markus Rehm became German champion on Saturday. Photo: DPA

Unfair advantage for one-legged long jumper?

Paralympics gold medallist Markus Rehm triumphed over his non-disabled rivals on Saturday, winning the German long jumping championship. But international athletics officials are now reviewing whether his prosthetic leg gave him an unfair advantage. READ  

Woodcarving champions - in pictures
Photo: DPA

Woodcarving champions - in pictures

Chainsaws, wood planes and sand paper were out over the weekend in Saxony-Anhalt where more than 30 artists competed in the International Woodcarving Championships. READ  

Hamburg could treat infected Ebola doctor
Liberian health workers in protective clothing bury an Ebola victim in early July. Photo: DPA

Hamburg could treat infected Ebola doctor

A World Health Organisation doctor infected with the deadly Ebola virus while trying to help stop it spreading through West Africa could travel to a Hamburg clinic for treatment. READ  

Germany evacuates embassy in Libya
Black smoke billowing from a storage depot of fuel that was hit by a rocket the night before near the airport in Tripoli on July 28th. Photo: EPA/SABRI ELMHEDWI

Germany evacuates embassy in Libya

UPDATE: Germany pulled its embassy staff out of Tripoli on Monday, a day after advising all its citizens currently in Libya to leave the strife-torn country immediately. READ  

Police kill fleeing drug dealer with bad shot
Photo: DPA

Police kill fleeing drug dealer with bad shot

A policeman is being investigated for manslaughter after he shot a fleeing man, wanted on drug charges, in the back of the head. The officer claimed he had aimed for his legs. READ  

Germany's students fail to graduate in time
A German student protests against the Bologna reforms in Mainz in 2010. Photo: DPA

Germany's students fail to graduate in time

Leaked figures show the average student in Germany still takes around four years to complete a bachelor's degree, suggesting controversial reforms to higher education have so far failed to cut down the number of Germany's perpetual students. READ  

Lawmakers earn millions on the side
Bavarian lawmaker Peter Gauweiler made almost €1 million on the side. Photo: DPA

Lawmakers earn millions on the side

A quarter of all politicians in the German Parliament are making additional income on top of their parliamentary salary, a transparency group said on Saturday. Thirteen lawmakers have made more than €100,000 in the last few months. READ  

Schweinsteiger sorry for holiday video
Schweinsteiger has apologized after the video of him on holiday was posted on YouTube. Photo: DPA

Schweinsteiger sorry for holiday video

UPDATE: Germany’s World Cup winning star Bastian Schweinsteiger has apologized after a video emerged of him on YouTube leading a chant insulting Borussia Dortmund supporters and players. READ  

Sale stopped of oldest message in a bottle
Konrad Fischer with his find. Photo: DPA

Sale stopped of oldest message in a bottle

UPDATE: A fisherman who found the world's oldest message in a bottle tossed into the sea in northern Germany has failed in his attempt to sell it on eBay. The auction was stopped at the last minute. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
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
Sport
Yoga helped Jogi's boys bring World Cup home
Photo: DPA
National
Pressure on police over anti-Semitic protests
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The Local List: 12 best words in German
Photo: DPA
Politics
View from Germany: 'Nobody will win in an economic war with Russia'
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
Photo: Shutterstock
Features
Some of the most embarrassing mistakes you can make in German
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

3,221
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd