German election year kicks off with state polls

Berlin, Mar 14 (efe-epa).- Polling stations opened on Sunday in the southwestern German states of Baden-Wurttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate for regional elections, marking the start of an election year that will eventually see Chancellor Angela Merkel call it quits after 16 years in office.

Voters are set to cast their ballots to choose new legislatures between 7.00 am and 8.00 pm in the two states, where recent polls were not in favor of Merkel’s party, the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), amid corruption allegations.

In Baden-Wurttemberg, home to 7.6 million eligible voters, Winfried Kretschmann of the Green Party is making a bid for a third term in office. Kretschmann was first elected minister-president of the state in 2011.

Malu Dreyer of the Social Democrat Party, meanwhile, is expected to be re-elected in Rhineland-Palatinate (3.1 million voters).

Merkel’s conservatives are starting the election year in a weak position, following the resignation of three lawmakers who allegedly earned big commissions through business deals for anti-coronavirus masks.                                                                                                          

The CDU and their Christian Social Union (CSU) allies are to decide later this month on their joint candidate for the national elections to take place later in September.

Newly elected CDU party head and governor of Germany’s North Rhine Westphalia state Armin Laschet, along with Bavarian state premier and leader of CSU party Markus Soder have emerged as the two likely contenders. EFE-EPA

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