German governing parties punished in state election

Hannah Rogers
October 30, 2018

The German political landscape had already changed a year ago after the general elections in September when the oh-so-stable Germany saw the far-right party AfD enter the national parliament, the Bundestag, and witnessed coalition talks that failed after four weeks of negotiations, then had to wait months for a new government to form.

Merkel told reporters in Berlin that, after leading the CDU for 18 years, she felt "today it is time to start a new chapter".

Her announcement follows a poor result in the Hesse state election on Sunday, where both the CDU and its partners in national government, the Social Democrats, lost ground.

The chancellor has indicated that she will seek another two-year term as CDU leader in December.

Projections for ARD and ZDF public television, based on exit polls and partial counting, gave the CDU 27-28 per cent support and the centre-left Social Democrats almost 20 per cent.

However, German media reported that Merkel had told a meeting of top brass in the Christian Democratic Union that she did intend to stay on as chancellor, a mandate set to run until 2021. The CDU is due to hold a conference in December at which the party's leadership is up for renewal. "The CDU slumped to 27% in preliminary results in the state, the party's worst showing in the state since 1966 and a drop of 11 points since Hesse last went to the polls in 2013".

Taxi for Angela Merkel? She put Germany and Europe on track toward a new political era after voters punished Germany's governing parties in a state election Sunday, the latest in a string of woes to hit her fourth-term federal administration.

Merkel's first step towards the exit door is likely to send ripples across the European Union, where she has served a beacon of stability as bloc grapples with multiple global crises, Brexit and an unpredictable ally in the White House.

Voting begins in Kandahar elections
One police officer was killed and six others, including election workers and policemen, were wounded in the blast. But long queues of voters had formed as early as 07: 00 local time (02h30 GMT), the polls opened two hours late.

"Merkel said national politics had had a regrettable negative influence on the results in Hesse, calling them 'disappointing and bitter, '" reports The Guardian. However, Chancellor Merkel said she made the decision not to run earlier in the year, before the summer break.

Merkel now governs Germany in a "grand coalition" of what traditionally have been the country's biggest parties - the CDU, Bavaria's CSU, and the Social Democrats.

But at home, even a change-averse electorate has started to grow tired of the leader dubbed "Mutti" (Mummy) and the cautious and glacial style of consensus politics her coalition government is now associated with.

"Even if Merkel were to be replaced and/or if a new government were to take power in Berlin, with or without new elections, it would not make a major difference once the dust has settled", Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg, said in a note.

Many liberals around the world may still hail the brainy, pragmatic and unflappable Merkel, 64, as a welcome counterbalance to the big, brash men of global politics, from Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin.

However, Nahles claimed that Merkel's stepping down as the CDU leader won't impact the grand coalition between the CDU/CSU and SPD.

"We are witnessing a continuation of the pattern in place ever since Merkel's mistakes in the 2015 migration crisis: The gradual but steady erosion of her political power", Carsten Nickel, managing director at consultancy Teneo, told Reuters.

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