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Early turnout low in state elections

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Early turnout low in state elections
Photo: DPA
13:36 CEST+02:00
Early indications suggest that turnout in Sunday's state elections in Saarland, Saxony and Thuringia has been relatively low, despite their importance as fore-runners for next month's general election.

According to reports from news agencies DDP and DPA, only 8.7 percent of the Saxony electorate had voted by 10am, less than at the same time in the last state election in 2004, when a total of 59.6 percent turned out to vote.

In Thuringia, where the election is slightly more open, early turnout has been somewhat higher, with 18 percent having voted by 11am. But the total turnout in Thuringia in 2004 was 53.8 percent, and it is thought that Sunday's sunny weather may distract some uncertain voters from the ballot box.

A large turnout is still expected in the Saarland election, where socialist The Left party leader Oskar Lafontaine is running to regain the state premiership of his home state. Lafontaine still enjoys considerable popularity in Saarland, which he governed for the SPD from 1985 to 1998, and the result promises to be tight with support for the ruling Christian Democrat Union (CDU) having dropped sharply since its resounding win in 2004.

They are set to come in a strong third in Saarland and the SPD's chancellor candidate, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, this week gave his blessing to "red-red" coalitions with The lefton the state level.

"The SPD must do what it can to lead governments," he said, while continuing to rule out an alliance with Die Linke in the national government.

Turnout in Saarland hit a record low in 2004 with 55.5 percent, and election experts are expecting a marked increase this time round, with so much riding on the result.

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