• 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
Poland bridles at German minimum wage
Photo: DPA

Poland bridles at German minimum wage

Germany's newly-introduced €8.50 minimum wage is raising hackles at Polish trucking companies, who say they shouldn't have to pay their drivers at that rate for the hours they spend on their western neighbour's roads. READ  

Life sentences meted out in murder-for-hire
A man photographs an appeal for witnesses in the death of Christin R. in 2012. Photo: DPA

Life sentences meted out in murder-for-hire

A Berlin judge on Thursday sentenced four people to life sentences in a sordid conspiracy murder case in which a pizza delivery driver was paid €500 to kill a young woman for her life insurance. READ  

Jobless numbers rise to top 3 million
Men at work. Photo: DPA

Jobless numbers rise to top 3 million

German jobless numbers rose this month, bringing unemployment up to seven percent, the Federal Labour Agency (BA) reported on Thursday. READ  

Frankfurt man loses airport job over Isis links
Security checks at Frankfurt airport. Photo: DPA

Frankfurt man loses airport job over Isis links

In a decision announced on Wednesday, a Frankfurt court upheld the dismissal of a man from his job at Frankfurt airport over his close friendship with a foreign citizen with ties to terrorist group Isis. READ  

Cologne Karneval scraps Charlie Hebdo float
Image courtesy Festkomittee Kölner Karneval

Cologne Karneval scraps Charlie Hebdo float

Cologne's planned Charlie Hebdo float in its Rosenmontag parade was a false start, after the organising committee scrapped its construction over security concerns. READ  

Overnight raids bust up smugglers ring
File photo: DPA

Overnight raids bust up smugglers ring

Federal police arrested 12 people on Wednesday night after a national raid by police broke apart a smuggling ring. READ  

Anti-euro AfD split over Pegida ties
Former Pegida spokesperson Kathrin Oertel and Brandenburg head of AfD Alexander Gauland. Photo: DPA

Anti-euro AfD split over Pegida ties

Germany's upstart anti-euro AfD party will seek to mend a rift among members on whether to forge close ties with an emergent "anti-Islamisation" movement at a congress this weekend. READ  

Court grants kids right to know donor fathers
Photo: DPA

Court grants kids right to know donor fathers

The Supreme Court (BGH) decided on Wednesday that the children of sperm donors have a right to know who their biological father is at any time. READ  

Russia may declare 1990 reunification illegal
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: DPA

Russia may declare 1990 reunification illegal

More than 25 years after the Berlin Wall's fall, Russian lawmakers are mulling a proposal to condemn West Germany's 1990 "annexation" of East Germany as Moscow's answer to Western denunciation of its seizure of Crimea. READ  

No room for scooters on the bus: Court
Photo: DPA

No room for scooters on the bus: Court

A court in North-Rhine Westphalia found on Wednesday that there is no obligation for buses or trains to make room for mobility scooters - and that it's actually dangerous to bring them aboard. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
The rise and spread of Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Photo: DPA
Politics
The Local's report from Pegida's largest ever demonstration.
Sponsored Article
Top-notch tech boosts bilingual schools
National
Six stories that will rock Germany this year
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Photo: DPA
National
What were your favourite news stories of 2014?
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
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

3,448
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd