Merkel’s CDU fights off far-right challenge in crucial state election

Berlin, Jun 7 (EFE).- Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union party (CDU) fought off a challenge from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) after winning state elections in Saxony-Anhalt, seen as a litmus test for the country’s general election in September.

Sunday’s win represents a comeback for Merkel’s party and Armin Laschet, the new leader of CDU and candidate for chancellor in the national vote, after its disappointing results during spring state elections.

CDU gained 37% of the vote in the eastern region with AfD in second place with 20.8%, “a clear demarcation against the far-right” according to CDU Saxony-Anhalt first minister Reiner Haseloff.

Home to 2.2 million people, AfD’s anti-immigration stance gained support in the eastern state because voters feel they have been left behind by the central government in Berlin and its decision to bring in refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

AfD’s underperformance after polls suggested it would win Sunday’s state elections demonstrates CDU’s “firewall” against the far right and was “a good day for democracy in Germany,” Laschet said.

Desìte gaining momentum across Germany, Laschet has ruled out a power-sharing deal with AfD ahead of the general elections.

For the last five years, Saxony-Anhalt has been governed by what is known as the Kenya coalition – after the colours of the African nation’s flag – between the CDU, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Greens.

In his next electoral term, Haseloff could switch to a coalition with SPD and pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) or between the FDP and the Greens.

The CDU’s win in Saxony-Anhalt could be linked to Haseloff’s high approval ratings. The minister president has held office since 2011.EFE


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