• Germany's news in English
 

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)

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
Fare-dodging fine jumps from €40 to €60
Photo: DPA.

Fare-dodging fine jumps from €40 to €60

Nationwide fines for people who ride public transit without a proper ticket will increase from €40 to €60 starting on Wednesday in some cities, the first time the penalty has been increased in 12 years. READ  

Far-right attacks on asylum homes soar
A sign reading "stop Nazis" hangs from a lamppost. Photo: DPA

Far-right attacks on asylum homes soar

The number of attacks on asylum seekers' accommodation by violent far-right groups in Germany is on course to double in 2015 after tripling between 2013 and 2014, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday. READ  

Greece crisis
No chance of last-minute Greece deal: Merkel
People demonstrate in favour of a 'no' vote in Greece's Sunday referendum on Monday night. Photo: DPA

No chance of last-minute Greece deal: Merkel

UPDATE: Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday that there was no chance for a last-minute deal to prevent Greece defaulting on a payment to the IMF due at midnight. READ  

How Germany will deal with the leap second
A scientist works with an atomic clock at the Federal Physics-Technology Institute (PTB) in Braunschweig. Photo: DPA

How Germany will deal with the leap second

Germany's top time scientists are ready to spring into action in the dead of night on Tuesday, inserting an extra second into the clock while everyone else is asleep. READ  

German unemployment hits historic low
Photo: DPA

German unemployment hits historic low

German unemployment remained at historically low levels in June as the recovery in Europe's biggest economy remained on track, data showed on Tuesday. READ  

Greece crisis
Germany's Greeks look anxiously homeward
Antonius Chantzaras in his kiosk. Photo: DPA

Germany's Greeks look anxiously homeward

As crisis engulfs their homeland, members of the Greek community in Germany look anxiously homeward and reflect on how the crisis is already traveling back to Germany. READ  

Women's World Cup
Semi-final clash with US 'like a final'
Germany coach Silvia Neid. Photo: DPA

Semi-final clash with US 'like a final'

Ahead of Tuesday's semi-final clash against the Unites States in the Women's World Cup, Germany coach Silvia Neid warned that her team would not be relinquishing their status as the world's number one team yet. READ  

Germanwings co-pilot buried in silence
A man walks past a makeshift memorial to the Germanwings flight 4U9525 victims in Düsseldorf airport. Photo: DPA

Germanwings co-pilot buried in silence

As the co-pilot who steered Germanwings flight 4U9525 into the French Alps in March was buried on Monday, the authorities prepared to unveil the first steps they will take to improve air safety. READ  

Feisty mum attacks kids with pepperspray
Photo: DPA

Feisty mum attacks kids with pepperspray

A 20-year-old mother attacked a group of children with pepper-spray on Sunday believing they weren't being considerate enough with her own child. READ  

Tunisia terrorist attack
Second German confirmed among dead
Photo: DPA

Second German confirmed among dead

UPDATE: The Foreign Ministry confirmed on Monday that at least two Germans were killed in the terrorist attack in Tunisia which took the lives of nearly forty people. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
An eye for an eye? Mum protects child in playground with pepperspray
Politics
Follow our LIVE blog as Europe holds breath over Greece crisis
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's final day in Germany
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's second day in Germany
National
Queen Elizabeth II's first day in Germany - as it happened
National
Bus passengers tell fake racists where to get off
Politics
What's really in the Queen's handbag?
National
Germans say USA doesn't respect freedom
National
Yes, you CAN buy adult e-books before 10pm in Germany
VIDEO: Watch a 93-metre turbine crash to earth in slow motion
Gallery
Who's got a shot at the German Film Awards
Rhineland
Anger over 'child-free' beer garden
National
How do you do, Majestät?
National
Man defends right to pee in public with tear gas
Features
The Germans who won Waterloo for the British
Frankfurt
Should Germany ban circus animals?
Hamburg
Where people are having the most sex in Germany
Culture
Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Not this student...
National
Dresden's three-decade-long red light
Politics
Upper house calls for gay marriage now
Berlin
Berlin named 3rd-best city worldwide
Sport
In search of the toughest firefighter
Business & Money
German firms shine for European engineering students
Gallery
Hitler's paintings up for auction
National
German's 70-year search for murdered US pilot
Politics
What the G7 leaders agreed at Elmau
Business & Money
What really makes Germans happy
National
Playmobil builder leaves worldwide legacy
National
The car share that became a drug run
Politics
What Snowden revealed to Germany
Rhineland
Why wolf cubs are being raised by hand
National
Hitler's booze cave found
National
Environment makes Germany worth living in
Culture
What's top of the charts in June
Gallery
Germany's most beautiful cycle routes
Business & Money
The business case for Britain in the EU
Rhineland
Why farmers are free to pong up the countryside
National
German restaurants among world's best
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

6,715
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd